Back in the middle of March, it wasn’t even on the radar.
Now, it’s in the books.
The Auburn High girls tennis team has its first-ever South Puget Sound League championship.
“This just feels fantastic. It’s a relief,” senior Breann VanSteenvoort said after she officially sealed the SPSL 3A deal on Monday by winning No. 2 singles, giving the Trojans the clinching point in their 3-1 victory against Auburn Riverside.
“When we beat Riverside the first time (4-1 on March 27), that was probably when (we first thought a title was possible),“ VanSteenvoort said. “We hadn’t beaten Auburn Riverside in years.”
Now, they’ve done it twice in one spring.
Along with a split of its two matches against defending champion Enumclaw and a two-match sweep of everyone else in league play (capped by Wednesday’s 5-0 victory against Bonney Lake), the Trojans finished with a 13-1 record.
“Our doubles teams have really stepped up to the plate. They’ve improved a lot,” coach Crystal Wisness said. “Our top four girls in doubles (Juliann Conklin, Nyareu Thong, Mariah Siemion and Peyton Prothero) are pretty interchangeable.”
That Siemion-Prothero combo has been particularly effective. Siemion, a junior, and Prothero, a freshman, paired up for the first time on April 16, playing No. 1 double against Franklin Pierce and cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Since then, they’ve occupied the No. 2 slot, and pushed their record to 5-0 on Monday with a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Paige Crawford and Jane Han.
“We did the (intrasquad) challenges, and somehow, we got to be together,” Siemion said.Added Prothero, “Coach tried out all of our doubles people, and we play well together.”
Another combination that factored into the title equation is Kristi Holley and Lizzy Wroe. They pushed their record to 6-3 in the No. 3 slot by defeating Tessa Goodwin and Megan McCabe, 6-4, 6-1.
VanSteenvoort got the third point with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Corinne Lo in No. 2 singles. They traded one-game leads during the first set before VanSteenvoort broke serve to close it out. Lo won her serve to open the second set, then VanSteenvoort ran off four straight games for a 4-1 lead.
She finished it off with a love service game, polishing it off with a crosscourt forehand winner.
Riverside’s point came from Carli Holtgraves and Andriela Gaerlan in the form of an impressive 6-3, 6-0 victory in No. 1 doubles against Conklin and Thong. Gaerlan, who usually plays in No. 2 doubles, stepped up into the top tandem with Holtgraves, whose regular partner, Caroline Craft was in Georgia for the national DECA competition. Holtgraves and Craft are 11-0 together; Gaerlan and Paige Crawford have forged a 5-1 record.
BOYS SOCCER: AR rolls past Auburn, puts Trojans on brink
For Auburn Riverside, the drama was over long ago. For the Auburn Trojans, it was all down to the final night of the season.
Auburn Riverside scored three first-half goals on Tuesday night on the way to a 4-0 rout of crosstown rival Auburn in a South Puget Sound League 3A game.
AR (11-0-2, 35 points) clinched the regular-season title last week. The loss dropped Auburn (4-6-3, 15 points) into fifth place, two points behind White River (5-6-2, 17 points) heading into Thursday’s finale at home against Bonney Lake (results unavailable).
To grab the fourth and final playoff spot, Auburn needed a victory against the Panthers, and also needed last-place Franklin Pierce to tie or defeat White River.
ALSO: Jefferson missed a chance to clinch the SPSL North title on Wednesday, falling to Kentwood, 2-0. The Conks (9-3-1, 28 points) leapfrogged TJ (8-3-2, 26) into first place. Jefferson played Kentlake in Friday’s regular-season finale (results unavailable) and Kentwood closed against Kentridge. TJ needed a win and a Kentwood loss to claim the crown.