Gianan gets back to state

Two-time doubles champion flies solo to Richland

The day after the district championship slipped through her fingers, Hannah Gianan won her most important tennis matches of the season to get back to state.

Gianan defeated Battle Ground’s Andrea Besara 6-0, 6-0 to finish in second place at districts Friday, at Club Green Meadows in Vancouver. On Saturday, the Camas High School junior beat Skyline’s Dora Varsa 6-1, 6-1 in a bi-district playoff to qualify for her third high school state tournament in a row.

“I had some redeeming to do,” Gianan said. “I focused on what I needed to work on, so I didn’t make any mistakes like I did yesterday.”

Gianan returns to the Columbia Basin Racquet Club, in Richland, Friday. This is the same place where she won the state doubles championship as a freshman and sophomore with Jen Lewis. Lewis graduated in 2015. Gianan is flying solo this season, and doing so with sturdy wings.

“She is just a veteran at these tournaments,” said head coach Jonathan Burton. “There is some pressure going in as a two-time state doubles champion and then returning as a singles player. It gets a little lonely out there. It’s just you and your head and the game, but this is not her first rodeo.”

Gianan learned her lesson after losing to Mountain View’s Amila Gogalija in the district championship match. The Papermaker rolled into the finals Thursday without giving away a single game. She had Gogalija on the ropes after winning the first set. Suddenly, she lost her first game of the tournament. Then, five more games and the match was tied.

The first game in the third set took at least 15 minutes to complete. Gianan was the one to finally break through, but then Gogalija won the next two games to regain control. She played nearly flawless tennis the rest of the way to secure the championship.

“It kind of humbled me. I haven’t been challenged like that all season,” Gianan said. “She’s a great player, and she played amazing. I don’t think I saw her make a single error in those last two sets.”

Gianan would love to have the opportunity to play Gogalija again at state.

“I will definitely be more focused and not let my mind wander. I won the first set 6-0, and then I let my guard down. I can’t allow that to happen again,” Gianan said. “It’s just a game. You don’t need to get so emotionally invested in it.”

But in the heat of the battle, every point matters.

“I’ll admit, I was biting my tongue after some of those shots,” Gianan said. “I’m realizing you have to be able to let those bad shots go and focus on the next one.”

After simmering on that loss for four hours Friday, Gianan got back on the court and took care of business against Besara.

“We worked through some cramping issues and tended to a sore arm,” Burton said. “Then she went out there and delivered a nearly flawless match.”

Gianan played even more determined Saturday. She was testing Varsa’s will to keep vollies alive by running her from one side of the court to the other. The freshman’s spirit was breaking, but Gianan never stopped applying the pressure until she earned the victory.

“It happens to all of us. The key to tennis is not letting your emotions get the best of you,” she said. “So many things are going on at once. There’s people cheering, there’s noise all around you, and there’s your opponent. It’s easy to lose focus.

“I knew I was not going to win easily,” Gianan added. “I expected to have to fight for it.”

After losing in the quarterfinals, Samantha Merrill and Lucinda Zhang won three consolation matches in a row for the Papermakers to finish in fourth place at districts.

“I’m so proud of them for fighting through,” Gianan said. “They beat those Skyview girls when they were scared to play them. I think they represented Camas well, especially for being sophomores.”