Gig Harbor girls tennis team eyes top-two Narrows 4A league finish

Depth, experience have Tides confident going into the season

Staff writerApril 2, 2014 

For the past three years, the Gig Harbor girls tennis team has been the third best in the Class 4A Narrows League, behind both Bellarmine Prep and Olympia.

This season, they want to take the next step.

“We would love to be one or two,” fourth-year head coach Pollyann Butler said. “It’s always hard coming in third. We’d love to be league champs.”

The Tides’ goal, on the surface, seems attainable, as the team returns nearly everyone from their entire roster from a season ago. The squad is led by No. 1 singles player Jaclyn Wilson, a senior, as well as senior co-captains Madeline Otto and Abby Miller. Additionally, senior Morgen Wallerich and junior Lauren Sutton comprise the No. 1 doubles team.

While Bellarmine and Olympia suffered some key personnel losses, Gig Harbor is reloading.

“This year, they all improved so much,” Butler said.

Otto, who plays both singles and doubles, made it to the district tournament in singles play last year. This year, she has higher goals.

“I really want to make it to state,” Otto said. “I really don’t care if it happens as a singles player or a doubles player.”

Like many of the Tides, Otto spent the offseason improving. Now she’s approaching her matches like a veteran — with perspective and patience.

“I’ve really been working on strategy and piecing together how points are going to work out,” Otto said. “I know in my previous seasons, I just kind of went out there and hit the ball. But this season, I have a much more developed sense of strategy, and where to place the ball in order to get the best results.”

This year’s team is deep — Butler said there’s no substantial dropoff with any of the groups or players, even if the team needs to dip into its junior varsity. The depth has created heightened competition, but the atmosphere is still fun and supportive, she said.

“I think our team has a lot of depth,” Miller said. “We have a lot of young talent, so that’s cool. I don’t know, we all work really well together, so it’s a positive competition within our team. It’s just a nice environment to be here.”

Wilson was an alternate for the district tournament last year. She hopes to get to state this year, and she realizes she will have to be sharp to get there.

“I’ve been focusing on being more efficient in my rallies and making all my shots count, and making my opponent do the work to get them back,” Wilson said.

The Tides will have their work cut out for them in the competitive Narrows League, but Butler thinks they have the pieces to finish in the top two.

“We’re excited,” Butler said. “It’s a great group. They’re supportive. They have fun together. They want to be league champs. They’re going to battle.”

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