West wins 10th Alaska High School State Tennis Championship in another landslide
For the 10th time since the inception of the Alaska High School Tennis State Tournament in 2007, West Anchorage High reigned supreme and were crowned 2022 champions at the conclusion of the three-day event.
Only the West and South have ever won state titles in tennis and the Eagles were able to win their fourth straight after compiling 155 team points. The Wolverines came in far behind with 75 points. Including the 2020 season when they had the most finishers of any team but no scores were counted, the Eagles have five straight state titles.
“The kids have done really well,” West head coach Bill Cotton said. “This year we had a little less at the top of the game although we did a lot better there than I thought.”
West won individual state titles in boys’ and girls’ doubles and came second in mixed doubles. But the Eagles were propelled to another Tag Team Championship thanks to a solid performance from their formidable depth with their best finishers.
Cyrus Clendaniel and Jude Cebrian won boys’ doubles, Eva Lief and Lillian Yang won girls’ doubles, and Will Sedwick and Ava Smith came second in mixed doubles.
“In my first year I didn’t even make a statement and last year I finished fifth so it’s really cool to win the title,” said Clendaniel, who has been competing in men’s doubles since. three years.
In addition to those finishers, the Eagles had four other pairs or individual berths at the state tournament. Leo Zimmer and Kian Flynn finished fourth in boys’ doubles, Lavinia Li and Lauren O’Leary finished fourth in girls’ doubles, Ryan Cebrian finished fourth in boys’ singles and Antonia Yu came fourth in girls’ singles.
“It gave us a total of 60 extra points, which was really the difference between us and the other teams because there were a lot of great players in this tournament,” Cotton said.
In his eyes, the most exciting game for the Eagles in the final came in the girls’ doubles division where Lief and Young faced Meghan Spils and Dimond’s Delaney Fagerstrom.
“When they first played State West they won, when they played the second time in the Finals Dimond won,” Cotton said. “They had to play a third time and West pulled it off.”
It was the third straight year that a couple from West won the women’s doubles at the state division with a different couple each year. Cotton and his team decided to separate the dynamic duo of Lief and Yu from last year so they could better increase their chances of earning more team points in matches and tournaments.
Cotton has seen Yang improve throughout the season, but believes she took her game to the next level in the playoffs.
“Ava has been playing really well all the time and Lillian has improved all year and especially last week,” he said.
Clendaniel and Cebrian had a tough final match against two opponents they knew very well, Andre Teasley and Dimond’s Tae Yoon. They have faced each other three times before in close matches in which they came out on top. Clendaniel and Cebrian won 6-2, 7-6 in Saturday’s final.
“The first set went pretty easy and that second set got really tough,” Clendaniel said. “It was just point after point, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but we kept fighting.”
Clendaniel and Cebrian were won by several players who finally overcame the hump and won their first title on Saturday. Better late than never for Juneau senior Katie Pikul, who won the state women’s singles championship after defeating top seed Allya Pedalino of Service in an extra match.
“I lost the first round match and I didn’t even know if I was going to place, so it’s amazing,” said Pikul.
She did it last year, but failed to make the final and placed third. Pikul and Pedalino battled through cramps to finish the match which Pikul won in straight sets.
“There were times when I wasn’t sure if my swings were working and I was like ‘this is the last game I’m going to play in high school’, so I’m just going to put everything I have into this game. ”
The men’s singles championship was one of the most competitive battles of the tournament as South’s Aaron Griffin and Service’s Ulysses Escobar continued their season-long battle. In the final, Griffin prevailed in a third-set tiebreaker to win the title.