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Overlake soars past Bear Creek in all-Redmond tennis showdown
In an all-Redmond battle on the tennis courts Tuesday afternoon at The Overlake School, the Owls' depth prevailed as they defeated the Bear Creek Grizzlies, 4-1.
Although Overlake plays in the 1A Emerald City League and Bear Creek in Sea-Tac 2B, the two schools play in a combined league for tennis, creating lots of high-level competition.
The Owls were actually playing shorthanded, as their No. 2 singles sensation, lefty Trym Torvund, was stuck in Spain due to spreading ash from the Icelandic volcano eruption on April 15, which stalled air travel throughout Western Europe.
"With (Trym) not here, other kids had to step up," said Overlake's longtime coach Bill Armstrong. "We're deep enough that we can do that."
The match was highlighted by Grant Munoz beating Bear Creek sophomore Michael Chang 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 1 singles match, and two of the three doubles teams also emerged with wins for Overlake.
"(Chang) is a tough player, and Grant had to be patient," said Armstrong, in his 28th year as coach. "He needed to wait for the right points, and he did."
The Owls took a forfeit from Bear Creek in the No. 2 singles spot due to an ineligible player. In doubles action, Marcus Munoz and Trevor Partington beat Alex Finkleson and Reed Joslyn 6-3, 6-1, and No. 3 Bob Gardner and Gavin Mackinlay, both sophomores, beat Junwian Yoo and Nick Cho 6-1, 6-1.
BEAR CREEK'S DYNAMIC DUO
One is a senior, the other a sophomore. One is a lanky 6-foot-5 player, towering over his teammate. One is left-handed, the other right-handed. One had never played competitive tennis before March of this year, and the other is last year's defending state champion.
Although the differences between basketball standout Jamie Meyer and 2B state tennis singles winner Jake Imam seem to go on forever, the things that bring them together are their friendship and their love to compete.
Meyer, a senior, and Imam, a sophomore, were the Grizzlies' lone bright spot during Tuesday's match, defeating Nishant Velagapudi and Henk Wolda of Overlake in the No. 1 doubles matchup 6-0, 6-1.
"They had a lot to learn from this match, they allowed Jake to play too many balls," Armstrong said of his doubles team. "They need to make Jamie play more of those, but they're tough. We're pleased with our effort, but we just wanted them to do different things with that effort."
It was Imam's first match back since suffering a minor back injury, from which he says he is now fully recovered.
"There's a lot of movement in singles, but playing doubles it should be fine," said Imam on the possibility of re-aggravating his back.
Meyer has been a star on the basketball court for the Grizzlies since he was a freshman, leading the team to two state-tournament appearances and has been named the league MVP three times.
He was encouraged my Imam, his best friend, to pick up a racket last summer and start practicing in the hopes that they could play doubles together.
Even Grizzlies' head coach Dennis Sherrer had his reservations about the idea.
"When he first came in with the idea (of playing tennis), I thought he was crazy," he said. "But Jamie's a really good pingpong player, and it transferred really easily into tennis. He's got those long arms and quick hands which helps him at the net."
Watching Imam and Meyer play together and feed off each other, it's clear that they have the ability to make a splash in the postseason and potentially the state tournament this May at Yakima Tennis Club.
"It's a new experience, to say the least, it's been a whole lot of fun and I've gotten a lot of support from Jake and the rest of the team," said Meyer. "It's just a golden opportunity to get to compete and do something fun with your best friend. That's as good as it gets right there."
YEARNING FOR YAKIMA
Even with the talent that the Grizzlies possess in their No. 1 spots for both singles and doubles and with up-and-coming singles player Michael Chang in the mix for Bear Creek, Armstrong is confident that his deep and versatile Owls team will be well-represented in Yakima.
"I'm certainly banking on Yakima. There will be three or four spots coming out of our league, if Jake goes doubles, I know we're going to have one, maybe two of those singles," Armstrong said. "Doubles is where everyone's scratching and clawing and really fighting, and I think either of our two pairs have a chance at that too."
A certain threat to take one of the doubles spots is the formidable team of Imam and Meyer, and the younger half of the duo would love nothing more to follow up his singles crown with a doubles title. Most importantly, he would get to share the moment with his best friend.
"If we can take a state tournament (in doubles), that'd be pretty sweet," Imam said with a smile.
To view and/or purchase more action photos from this tennis match, please visit photographer Matt Campbell's Web site at http://www.sportspixs.com
"Jake wants to (play doubles), they've worked towards that, and I have yet to see a reason why they shouldn't be allowed to play together. I'm excited for them. In this day of specialty sports, for a good athlete to have an opportunity to play at a high, competitive level, it speaks a lot for the kids' character and the opportunities they have at a small school like Bear Creek. Jake will get to serve one of every four games, after that Jamie's all on his own serving, and after that it's 50-50. It's not going to be easy, but the nice thing about doubles is intimidation, it goes a long way. Jamie's still 6-foot-5."
- Grizzlies' Head Coach Dennis Sherrer on Jake Imam playing doubles this year with Jamie Meyer instead of defending his 2B singles title