Making a statement

TACOMA — Whether it’s kicking high and wide or zipping in the corner of the service box with no spin at all, Joel Trudel’s serve is the topic of many of his opponents’ conversations.

“His serve sets up easy points for him,” said Central Kitsap’s Jacob Hobaugh. “It’s hard and acurate. I have played him a lot and every time it gets better.”

Trudel, a junior from Bremerton High School, has used his serve to get him into the West Central District 3 tournament, which started yesterday at the University of Puget Sound.

The last time he played at UPS, it was in the fall for the league tournament.

He won that one.

Now, as he smacks shots from the baseline or rushes to the net to volley, Trudel is focused on another trip to the state tournament which starts next weekend.

He looks a little taller. He’s obviously a league above many of the players on the courts at UPS.

“Everything has gotten a little better,” said Trudel’s private coach, Eric Jacobsen, at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club.

He was watching Trudel from the stands.

“He hits harder. He’s gotten stronger.”

To be successful at the district tournament and state, Jacobsen said Trudel needs to serve well, and keep his mental focus.

“Mentally he needs to stay confident,” he said. “He’s up and down.”

Jacobsen has coached Trudel for the last seven years, helping him hone parts of his game.

Now Trudel is ranked eighth in the United States Tennis Associations Northwest 18’s division.

Trudel has been practicing frequently against the opponent he will probably face in the finals of the tournament: Central Kitsap’s Francisco Carrasquero.

“I really want to play against Joel in the finals,” he said.

Carrasquero’s steady baseline game matches up pretty well against Trudel’s hard serve, sort of like the Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi rivalry that Americans have witnessed in the pros for years.

“His best part is his serve,” Carresquero said, “but his forehand is pretty good too.”

Sometimes Trudel rips a forehand flat down the line or cross court, other times he loops a whipped shot that arcs high over the net.

He regularly masters points by mixing up speeds and spins.

So far, Trudel has gone 4-2 against Carresquero. The last time the two played, at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club, Carresquero won.

On the girls side of things, Iliana Petrova earned her trip into the state tournament by taking down her first two opponents in the tournament, Kylie Marshall, 6-1, 6-0 and Jamie Chan, 6-3, 6-2.

“I played all right,” said Petrova after the matches. “I could have played the points a little better.”

Petrova took on Bellarmine’s Suzie Matzinauer today, who she lost to in the Narrows League tournament semifinals last week, 6-4, 6-2, but District results were unavailable at press time.

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