The combined Juneau high school tennis team ended the season with a second-place overall finish, thanks to a strong showing at the ASAA Alaska State Tennis Championship in Anchorage.
The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé team, which includes players from Thunder Mountain High School, took first place in mixed doubles, second place in girls doubles and third place in boys doubles, at the event held Oct. 5-7. ASAA is the Alaska School Activities Association, the statewide nonprofit that supports high school interscholastic sports, academics and fine arts activities.
West High School in Anchorage took first place, its fifth state championship in a row and 11th overall. But Juneau made them work for it, moving from third place overall last year to second place this year.
Eight athletes represented Juneau in the tournament, which included 15 schools in four regions competing in five events. The tournament was held at The Alaska Club East in Anchorage.
“Both our boys and girls doubles lost in the first round, and worked their way through the elimination bracket,” said Mona Mametsuka, assistant coach. “The girls doubles reached the finals, and the boys doubles fell a little short and placed third.”
Mametsuka said head coach Austin Stefanich helped steer the team through “early tournament jitters.”
“Our girls doubles team, third round, was playing against the number-one seed of the tournament in Lathrop,” Stefanich explained. “Every time they played Lathrop through the season it was super close and went to tiebreakers every time.”
The same thing happened at the tournament. “Throughout the season we talked to them about recognizing whatever strategy the other team was using, and adjusting their play.” That is exactly what happened, he said. “This time they came out and beat them in straight sets.”
Juneau’s Chelsey Ligsay and Milina Mazon beat players from Chugiak, and then faced Lathrop, which ended with a match tiebreaker. Ligsay and Mazon prevailed in the next match with Lathrop, which brought in different players to face them the second time. Ligsay and Mazon ended up with second-place honors after losing in the finals to West High.
West High School also took first place for boys doubles, with second going to West Valley. Juneau’s Elliot Welch and Brendan West took third place, which required they first prevail in matches against Lathrop, Colony, Dimond and South.
Elizabeth Djajalie and Lucas Mattson of Juneau placed first in mixed doubles, beating Sophia Bechtoldt and Noah Stahl of Lathrop in two matches. Stefanich noted they were the first team to be entirely from Thunder Mountain High School, which he called “super awesome.” He said he looked forward to more players joining the team from Thunder Mountain.
The singles players on the Juneau team, Bella Reyes-Boyer and Josh Kessler, also deserve credit, he said.
The coaching team is led by Stefanich, with Mametsuka and Annie Kincheloe serving as assistant coaches. Athletic director Chad Bentz oversees the group.
The event was sponsored by ASAA, the Anchorage School District, First National Bank of Alaska and The Alaska Club, among others.
Stefanich and Mametsuka said the group is grateful to the sponsors, especially The Alaska Club, which allows the team to practice in its facilities.
But the team gets the credit, they said.
“We really emphasized with the players to have fun and for everyone to give every match their best effort,” said Mametsuka. “We are extremely proud of how everyone competed at such a high level and with great sportsmanship.”
“We look forward to putting in hard work in the off-season and being able to show up again at the state tournament next year,” said Stefanich.
• Contact Meredith Jordan at email@example.com or (907) 615-3190.