Doubles make the difference for Knights

Even in high school tennis, role players can be more important than the stars.

That’s why Bremerton High coach Ursula Huhta was focused on doubles play after her No. 1 singles player, Iliana Petrova, defeated Central Kitsap High’s Nika Botkin 6-1, 6-0.

And doubles play proved to be the difference between the schools as the Knights’ pairs swept CK en route to a 4-1 win in a Narrows League Bridge Division match at Olympic High.

“All three matches went three sets,” CK coach Ken Allen said. “We just kind of came up short.”

Corinne LeTourneau, a sophomore No. 2 singles player, notched the only CK win by defeating Aimee Munzi 6-1, 6-2.

“My big thing is consistency,” LeTourneau said. “I’ve taken some time off from (practicing at the Bremerton Athletic Club) and it’s going to take a while to get it back.”

After splitting the singles matches, Allen hoped for better results in the doubles. But the Cougars struggled in the third set of each match. Leilani Howard and Lottie Bauman defeated Kathryn Harada — 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 — in the No. 1 doubles before Christina Davis and Cassie Slumkoski beat Corrie Housley and Erin Chi — 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 — to guarantee a Knights’ victory. Khara Croswaite and Laura Croswaite defeated Sara Nash and Erin Swanson in the No. 3 match — 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 — to complete a doubles sweep for Bremerton.

But the focus was on Petrova, arguably the third-best player in the Narrows League behind a pair of sophomores — South Kitsap’s Stephanie Davison and Bellarmine’s Suzie Matzenauer.

“I already played Matzenauer and got killed,” Petrova said.

Petrova said her performance Wednesday wasn’t anything special.

“I played all right,” she said. “Nika just had a bad day.”

Botkin, a junior, said she wasn’t prepared mentally to face Petrova.

“She’s a really tough player and I was nervous,” she said. “But I’ll play her again.”

LeTourneau said her favorite aspect of the match was the positive court banter between her and Munzi.

“She’s nice and a good player,” she said. “The best matches are when you can laugh with your opponent.”

Munzi agreed.

“CK probably is the nicest school I’ve ever played,” she said.

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