Longtime underdogs are up for a fight on the tennis court
September 5, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
James Gibowski has heard the question before. He has answered it plenty of times to the point that he could probably do it in his sleep.
Yes, he coaches Mount Si High School tennis. Yes, it rains a lot in Snoqualmie. No, there are no indoor courts in the Snoqualmie Valley. Yes, that affects his team when competing in the KingCo Conference. No, KingCo has not gotten any easier.
A dozen freshmen, eight sophomores, five juniors and five seniors will suit up for the Wildcats’ boys tennis team this year, facing the same uphill battle the team has faced for years. The battle looks steep, with both the 3A and 2A state champs from 2011 — Mercer Island and Interlake — playing in 3A this year.
Josh Hamman, Matt Griffin and Kevin McLaughlin look to be the team’s top singles players, with newcomer Allan Reid a promising No.4.
“He’s never played tennis before, but he’s just a good athlete,” Gibowski said.
This year also marks the return of Logan Cochran, a promising freshman two years ago who lettered in tennis, switched to soccer, got hurt and has switched back.
Gibowski said he sees Cochran as one of the top doubles players on the team this season.
Griffin is the team’s only club player. About 30 people turned out for tennis this year, at least the third year of increasing numbers in Gibowski’s five-year tenure as coach.
“It makes it a little tougher for the JV coach,” he quipped. “Sometimes, we will go to some school and they will have eight on the JV and we’ll have 18.”
The varsity team will compete, Cochran said. They know the odds are long.
“We know this so we prepare for it,” he said. “We have to try extra hard.”
The team plays Liberty and Juanita early on, which is good news. Last year, the team beat Liberty and lost to Juanita by one point. Playing those teams early might give the team a boost.
This season has a special feeling for Cochran, a junior now, sort of a second rookie year.
“I missed playing it,” he said of tennis. “I wish I had picked tennis instead of soccer.”
While a booter, Cochran sustained a hernia and then broke his jaw. The medicine for the jaw still gives him trouble sometimes, making him dizzy, but the worst should be over, he said.
Besides, he’s playing tennis again and that makes him dizzy, too, but in a good way.
“I missed the people,” he said, “it’s like a family out here.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or email@example.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.