The Juneau-Douglas High School tennis team got an early jump on the season with a swing through Fairbanks over the weekend.
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The Crimson Bears won five of six matches on Thursday and Friday to successfully kick off their fifth season.
"We did pretty good," Juneau-Douglas co-captain Dream Suchitbharabitya said. "We did awesome. We got second place. Not as well as last year, but pretty good."
With just a couple weeks of practice under their belt, the Bears made a very solid showing of themselves up north.
"This year it's different because we traveled really early in the summer," Suchitbharabitya said. "Normally we start school first. And we only brought eight people so we had a lot of playing time. We all played seven, eight matches which is really tough on us."
On Thursday, JDHS opened play by routing a pair of Class 3A schools. The Crimson Bears beat Hutchison 6-1 and Monroe Catholic 5-2.
JDHS followed up Friday with a 5-2 win over Class 4A North Pole and a 4-1 victory over Class 3A Eielson in the morning.
On Friday afternoon, Juneau-Douglas split with a pair of Class 4A squads. The Bears topped Lathrop 3-2 but lost to West Valley 5-0.
"West Valley and Lathrop pushed the team a bit more," JDHS coach Amy Skilbred said. "They draw so many more kids and have players that have played for several years."
In addition to competing against the teams, JDHS also contended against the elements.
The Crimson Bears normally play in the climate-controlled coolness of the JRC/The Alaska Club. Up in Fairbanks, however, the team played outside in 80-degree heat.
"It makes a difference," Suchitbharabitya said. "Inside there's no sun, no heat, no dust, no anything. Outside, when you throw the ball up high, you see the sun right in your eyes. It's really hard."
Suchitbharabitya, co-captain Lyndsey Kelly, junior Merijke Coenraad and senior Kristina Paulick represented the girls at the event.
"Lyndsey was clearly one of the better girls playing," Skilbred said.
Nathan Graves, Steffan Wilcox, Forrest Wilcox and Brian Vandor represented the Crimson Bears' boys.
"It was a really good showing for the kids," Skilbred said. "We lost some very capable senior boys players, but Nathan has taken over the No. 1 spot and was really challenged by some of the players up there. His improvements are tremendous."
Up next for JDHS will be a trip to Anchorage for matches on Sept. 21-22.
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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