Sunset girls tennis takes Metro League crown
No more frantic, ultimately fruitless point tallying, no more four-letter words muttered under one's breath, no more sorrow.
No more second place.
The Sunset girls tennis team — exactly a year after finishing just a point behind Jesuit in the final team tally — ran roughshod over the Metro League district. With first place medals from singles' star Serim Jin, doubles' tandem Bo-Bae and Jin Yu, the Apollos took home the team title, rolling past the Metro field on May 11 at Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District.
"This has escaped us for two years, so we really wanted it this time," Jin Yu said. "I love the team environment and wanted to come through in the final for our team. Tournaments are so competitive, but here they're a ton of fun. (Tournaments) can be so hostile, but here they're friendly."
Sunset not only won the district tournament but went undefeated during league play, setting up what could be a big Class 6A tourney back at THPRD on Saturday.
"You can tell that we're all really dedicated tennis players, we've all worked really hard for this," Jin said. "We all practice on our own, dedicate time on the court. You can really tell that we're working for it. And we're not ones to lose or give up. I just love my team."
Jin's reentrance to the high school scene was a boon for an already loaded Apollo team that took second in Metro by a single point and third at state last year. Jin spent her junior year playing lots of national tournaments on the USTA circuit, scouring the country looking for great competition in all kinds of climates. Whether it was the swampy, humid South or the colder Northwest, Jin got out of her comfort zone herself against the best. That experience proved pivotal as Jin overcame a big second set deficit against Westview freshman Karolina Dobiecka and won the match 7-5, 7-6 (7-2).
"I missed (not playing for Sunset), but that experience has really helped me grow stronger," Jin said. "Really it was just blocking everything out and focusing on my game. All that experience has paid off and I pulled through."
When the rallies between Jin and Dobiecka wore on, when the big Westview contingent roared, the seasoned senior stayed tough mentally.
"I'm not somebody who gives up, I knew I was going to stay in there and keep fighting until it ends," Jin said. "That's how you play tennis."
The Yu twins are a delightful duo that plays a fan-friendly, push-the-envelope style of tennis. They play fast and frenetic, covering the court with sudden bursts of speed and energy while deploying quick reflexes at the net and along the baseline. Bo-Bae and Jin have played together since the age of nine. For two and a half years all the twins trained for was doubles' play. But for all the identical twins' inherent advantages, Bo-Bae said she and her sister have to remind themselves to over-communicate on the court. When tensions run high and competitive juices flow, sometimes the sisters tend to internalize any ill will toward one another.
"We fight a lot," Bo-Bae Yu said with a laugh. "We compete over everything. I get so mad when (Jin ) misses and vice versa."
To prevent any unease from spoiling their play, the twins came up with a new rule, one aimed at fostering better chemistry.
"If we don't high-five each other between each point, we have to hug each other in front of everyone," Jin Yu said with a smile. "We really focus on high-fiving after every point, being nice to each other and getting along. That was really key in this tournament."
And while the Yus know how to push each other's buttons as sisters do, they certainly know how to bring out the best in one another. Bo-Bae said at the end of the day, each junior is shooting for the same goal: winning.
"We know each other so well and that's what makes us such a strong team," Jin Yu said. "Even if we're not getting along, sometimes we have to suck it up and compete as hard as we can. That wins over arguing, usually."
"It's a double-edged sword, one that cuts both ways," Bo-Bae Yu added. "I hate arguing with my sister, but I hate losing anymore. We just have to get it together during matches."
The district semifinals and finals had plenty of purple and white hue spread out on the THPRD. To win Metro the Yus had to go through their Apollo counterparts: junior Yara Chehab and sophomore Lucy Erickson in the district final. Neither twin was particularly enthused about squaring off against a teammate but still went about their business in the same method.
"I hate playing against people I like," Jin Yu said. "It's easier to play against people I don't like. But it's like any other tournament: you play against people you know and you have to be ok with that."
"Anyone on the other side of the court is my enemy at the time," Bo-Bae Yu said with a laugh. "But afterward we're friends again. It was really fun to compete against people who really wanted it."
Last year the Yus reached the 6A doubles final to Beaverton's Cassidy and Sydnie Binder, neither of which are suited up at state. Cassidy Binder is the Beavers' top singles player and Sydnie now plays for Boise State. So, with improved skills and better harmony, the Yus are out for the 6A title not just as a duo, but as part of the Apollos' team quest.
"I've never really wanted anything more," Bo-Bae Yu said. "I want to win this year and next year. We have to put everything we have into this. And to get it for the team would be the best."
Cassidy Binder, Dobiecka and Jesuit junior Nicole Hopman qualified for state as singles' players. Westview freshmen Riho Iijima and Harini Sachidhanand, as well as seniors Anju Mathew and Martina Chau, qualified as doubles' players.
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