Tennis players rachet up their rackets

CIC tournament starts today


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Chugiak’s Alex Shercliffe returns a shot against Eagle River in the mixed doubles match at Alaska Club East on Friday, Sept. 21.

Mike NESPER

Due to a lack of cooperation by Mother Nature, Chugiak and Eagle River’s tennis teams had a busy final week of the regular season making up for several postponed outdoor matches from earlier this year.

But they don’t get to rest just yet.

The first of a three-day Cook Inlet Conference tournament starts today (Thursday, Sept. 27) at Alaska Club North at 3 p.m. The tournament continues Friday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m.

“It’s a long, grueling season,” Mustangs’ head coach Sally Jo Cook said.

Both Cook and Wolves’ head coach Matt Crockett said their teams have improved throughout the season.

“No question they’ve all made growth,” Crockett said.

The Wolves won three of four matches last week. They downed Bartlett 6-3, edged Service 5-4 and earned a decisive 7-2 victory over Chugiak Sept. 20 before the Mustangs responded with a 6-3 win the next day.

Ryan Casey led Eagle River with three wins — twice over Chugiak’s Nate House in the boys No. 1 singles match and teamed up with Quinn Hulse to win the boys No. 1 doubles match against Service.

Besides splitting with Eagle River, Chugiak lost a close match against Service 5-4 last week.

Alex Shercliffe and Daniel Bozone won all three matches they played in. Shercliffe and Victoria Goss earned two mixed doubles wins in the Service match and the win over Eagle River. Shercliffe/Bozone beat Dagan Mullins/Eli Mullins in Chugiak’s loss to Eagle River.

Bozone and Josh Keller won the boys No. 2 doubles match against Service and beat Eagle River’s Daniel McLain/Eli Mullins on Friday, Sept. 21.

For Cook, there’s no better thrill than watching her team get stronger as the season progresses.

“It’s exciting to see the kids develop a skill they can use when they’re 90,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of good things. A lot of good memories.”

While Eagle River has seen an increased interest in tennis, Crockett said, a subpar practice facility hinders the team. A myriad of cracks cover the four courts at Lions Park, one court is missing a net and another droops well below the regulation height, he said.

“There’s a need for someone to resurface Lions Park,” Crockett said.

The courts at Schroeder Park are in optimal condition, he said, but splitting his team of 26 between two venues isn’t ideal.

Though ERHS is supportive of its tennis program, Crockett said he’d like to see the school make good on a seven-year-old promise to build courts on campus.

“Just having a place of our own is the hugest frustration,” he said.

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