The Juneau-Douglas tennis team is back from state after posting impressive results in Anchorage, earning state runner-up and state championship honors.
The tandem of Laurel Messerschmidt and Brian Vandor gave the Crimson Bears a state champion mixed doubles team for the second year in a row, and the boys' doubles team of Aaron Cohen and Nathan Graves earned runner-up after falling in the championship game.
Messerschmidt said winning state her senior year was a good way to go out.
"It feels really good because it was the last big effort of my tennis career in high school," she said. "To win it, to put in all the effort and have it pay off, feels really great."
"I played really well this year, I would say. And my teammates played really well, too," she continued. "We're really like a big family."
Though losing in the finals was tough, Cohen said everything went well, despite getting tough matchups.
"We actually had a lot of tough draws, but all of our seeded players played really well," he said. "Through the whole year, Nathan and I were planning on going and kicking some butt up there."
The boys were seeded fourth overall and defeated the No. 2 seed on their way to the final match.
"We had played those kids before and we knew their game, so we figured we could beat them," Cohen said. "We knew we could compete with any team up there."
The Crimson Bears finished fifth as a team in the tournament, and head coach Amy Skilbred said it was a great effort from her squad.
"We did really well," she said. "It was a good showing and the players all had a good weekend."
With mixed doubles and boys' doubles getting first and second, respectively, the rest of the team also fared well.
Nick Parker lost in the opening round of the tournament after a tough draw. Cohen said Parker pulled one of the toughest matchups in the tournament, but still played well.
Rachel Donohoe suffered a similar fate while also getting a tough draw in the first round, as did the girls' doubles grouping of Marlena Sloss and Sammy Alex in their first-round exit.
Skilbred said there will be a big turnover of players next year, as six of the eight kids who went to state are graduating seniors.
"Next year, we will have a lot of big shoes to fill, so to speak," she said. "Two girls from the state team are not seniors, so we're going to expect them back and doing a lot for the team."
Skilbred said there are are five or six junior boys, as well as sophomore and freshman boys, and a fair amount of sophomore girls that look promising.
"If everyone keeps playing," she said, "we'll put together a good team again next year."
Matthew Tynan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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