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Joel & Josh
Hes the underdog.
The new No. 2 guy.
The next best thing.
But if the Bremerton boys tennis team didnt harbor No. 1 singles player Joel Trudel, Josh Scheuing would be the king of the mountain.
Hes got all the traits of a champion from the white-knuckle intensity to the solid groundstroke shots and serve but hes missing one thing.
The sophomore only started playing the green-courted game in 1999, but he has risen a steady role next to fellow sophomore Trudel on Bremertons squad.
Both of them qualified for the Narrows League tournament which started yesterday and concludes this afternoon at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
After surviving the preliminary tournament last week in South Kitsap, the League tournament features the top 16 singles players and the top 16 doubles teams.
Many of them have faced each other in the season, but now is when it all really counts with a shot at districts next May on the line.
Bremerton coach Ursula Huhta said surviving the tournament often depends on the luck of the draw. As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Trudel opens against the No. 15 seed.
Scheuings luck wasnt quite as fortunate. He plays Bellarmine Preps Scott Kennell in first round. Kennell is the tournaments No. 1 seed and the overwhelming favorite after rolling through the season undefeated.
I dont know if I can beat him because hes a strong player, but Ive heard that if you just return his serve and stay consistent you can have a chance, Scheuing said.
Regardless, Scheuing vowed at the beginning of last week to go for broke in practice.
Ill really try to work on my serve. Ill also have to work on my backhand and work on being consistent, he said.
The two from Bremerton also have to survive an early morning commute to Tacoma. Scheuing and Trudel met their coach for a ride at 6:15 a.m. at Bremerton High on Friday.
When asked if he could perform so early in the morning, Scheuing said he had a plan.
I usually wake up early so Im not all groggy, he said, adding that he planned on hopping on the treadmill for a few minutes and jumping rope before Fridays and Saturdays matches.
Trudel also planned on suiting-up early for his first-round match against Bellarmine Preps No. 3 Matt McNeal at 8 a.m. Friday. Trudel had a nearly perfect season with his only loss coming against Kennell who also defeated him in last Mays district tournament.
I get up at least an hour before and then Ill be more adapted to be up early, Trudel said.
Joel will probably do pretty well, Schueing said.
Even though Trudel has a good chance to reach the finals of the tournament (where hell likely re-face Kennell), the season wont be over for Scheuing if he doesnt win his first match since theres always the consolation draw.
If Scheuing loses, hell get tossed into a pot with all the other players who were defeated. The winner of the consolation rounds advances to districts in the spring, along with the top players of the winners bracket.
Whatever happens, Huhta is proud of her team this year. The 12-3 record is the best theyve ever posted, she said.
We beat everybody on this side of the bridge so we felt that was a real accomplishment, Huhta said.
Bremerton sent two doubles teams to the preliminary tournament of the Narrows league, but they were eliminated.
For the No. 1 doubles team Dan Fisher and Dean Jacobs, both seniors, it was their last chance. But junior Chris Gonzales, who played with senior Ryan Hinrichsen, at No. 2 doubles, is hoping for another solid season next year.
Besides Bremertons respectable season record, coach Huhta made a bet with the team that if they won a match 5-0 shed throw them a pizza party. They ended up earning two pizza parties, and left Huhta with the lingering realization: Its amazing what pizza can do.