At the start of the 2021 Washougal High School boys tennis season, senior Gavin Kestner and junior Tucker Kneipp thought that they’d be facing off in weekly “challenge” matches to determine the squad’s No. 1 singles player for next competition.
But they ended up playing with each other, not against each other. As the Panthers’ top doubles tandem, they capped off a better-than-expected fall campaign with a third-place finish at the 2A District 4 tournament, held Oct. 26-28 in Olympia, Washington, by playing “some of their best tennis” of the season, according to Washougal coach Angela Watts.
Kestner and Kneipp will compete in the 2021-22 2A state meet, to be held Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle.
“Throughout the year I honestly didn’t see us going far, and I feel bad looking back now. I think we should’ve had more confidence,” Kneipp said. “It was definitely not how I thought the season was going to go because I expected to play singles all the way through sub-districts and districts if I made it. But I’m definitely happy with (how the season has gone). I don’t think it could’ve gone any better. I think we proved how talented we are.”
Their success might not have happened if Watts hadn’t decided to pair her two top singles players together as doubles partners for the Panthers’ second match of the season.