Washougal girls tennis dominates league

It’s been three years since Angela Watts became the head girls tennis coach for the Washougal Panthers, and the doubles team of Rebecca Boylan and Beyonce Bea started playing together.

The talented duo was just a single game away from making it to the state tournament last season. This year, they are dead set on making it happen.

“I just love how close we are, because we are able to talk honestly and stick it out through tough situations together,” Bea said.

Bea and Boylan are not alone in their success: They are among three Washougal doubles teams that have not lost a single match all season.

The girls’ winning streaks continued at a home match against Ridgefield on Wednesday, April 25, when the combos of Ally Steigmann with Paige Wilson and Rylee Erdwins with Emily Johnson made quick work of their opponents in two sets.

“We played with a mindset that we were in the district tournament,” Johnson said. “We were trying to place our shots in smart places.”

Watts said that, as a coach, she often relies on her doubles players.

“They are dominating and super athletic,” Watts said. “Our players have a natural ability to move on the court well.”

Washougal’s top two singles players, Kassidy Baldwin and Olivia Kelly, complement the dominating doubles teams. Kelly recently came through for her team, pushing the Panthers to victory against rivals at Columbia River, a team loaded with powerful singles players.

“We know Columbia River has dominating singles players and our doubles are dominating,” Watts explained. “Olivia came out on fire and won the first set six to two. And, although she didn’t win the match, her performance made the difference and gave us the win.”

Chemistry is Key

Watts said her team has developed great chemistry over time.

“We’ve managed to keep our doubles teams together, so they have had a chance to build up great chemistry and that flows to the entire team,” Watts said. “Our players care deeply.”

During the match with Ridgefield, several Panthers were moved to tears during matches they eventually rallied and won.

“Tears can be good,” Watts said. “They are passionate players and that’s what we teach. If you’re not going to play with passion, then don’t bother going on the court.”

The energy filled atmosphere on the court has become addictive for many of the Washougal players.

“We are all so close, just like a family unit. And we laugh and have fun, but we all share a desire to win,” Johnson said.

Looking forward, the players said they are starting to focus on the upcoming postseason.

“I think all three doubles teams will be in district and hopefully our entire team will make it,” Boylan said.

Coach Watts said she loves her team’s chances going forward.

“I enjoy this so much. Our players have such passion for the game and it makes things so much easier when they are willing to work hard,” Watts said. “They are all so great and constantly strive to improve.”