TONASKET – Brian Hendrick and Trevor Terris may on the surface seem not to have a lot in common.
But one thing they shared was the desire and willingness to do what it took to get their tennis games to a level that had thus far evaded the two Tonasket seniors. And that meant setting aside four years of almost exclusively playing singles to make a run as a a doubles team.
It paid off, as Hendrick and Terris not only qualified for the state 1B/2B/1A tournament, but made a run to the championship match before falling to brothers Teddy and Phillip Grenley of Charles Wright, who won their third straight state title by defeating the Tonasket duo 6-2, 6-2.
“What I am so proud of them for is their selflessness,” said Tonasket coach Mark Milner, who took over the program after former coach Dave Buccheim resigned shortly before spring practice started. “They are both competitors and I know they wanted to play singles at the start of the season.”
They played singles, and played pretty well, through most of the season. But after each won singles matches against tough opponents from Omak, Milner suggested the two team up to take on Omak’s top doubles team of Gabe Holz and Morgan O’Dell (who also went on to get to the state tournament). The Omak pair entered the match unbeaten on the year, but Terris and Hendrick won a hard-fought match that set the tone for the rest of their season.
“That was a big win for us that day,” Milner said. “I can say that if we had not won or played that competitive, I probably would have kept them in singles.”
It was a bit of a risky move for two seniors in the final month of their high school career. They had tried once before to play doubles in the post-season, at the end of their sophomore seasons.
“We choked, one and done,” Terris said. “This was the first time we got serious about it. I think as sophomores we thought we would just have it handed to us. Our junior year we didn’t do doubles at all. This year we knew we wouldn’t have it handed to us, because we’d been through some tough times.”
“We just worked that much harder,” Hendrick said. “We didn’t need to change that much of our game; we just needed to learn a little more about net play.”
They must have been listening to their coach.
“Their strengths are serving and ground strokes,” Milner said. “Our net play was always our weakness, but we could overcome that by serving well and returning well. Both of the boys’ serves really got on when it counted and by the state tournament, had become a force to be reckoned with.
“I had a goal to get both of the players to state their senior year,” he added. “They really have earned it with their commitment to tennis and was so proud of what they accomplished.”
That wouldn’t be easy. Terris and Hendrick had two vastly differing athletic careers as Tiger athletes, neither path an easy one.
Terris was a three-sport athlete all through school, suffering more than a few disappointments along with his teammates in football and basketball, and coming up short of his goals in tennis through is first three years.
“I put a lot into every sport I’ve played,” Terris said. “To see something come out of it – not that a lot didn’t come out of the other sports – we just didn’t win much. There have been some awards, and that’s cool and all, but we just got second team all state. To be in that category, I’ve always wanted to be there, and to represent Tonasket that way.”
Hendrick’s tennis experience was similar, but as a home-schooled student wasn’t as connected to the usual high school mix that Terris was. Hendrick’s older brother, Bret, finished second at state with Lee Leavell in 2011. Brian hadn’t even been to state yet, and he too was running out of opportunities to get there.
“I always looked up to and was in awe of him,” Hendrick said. “I was proud of him, but now being there, too, I can finally say I’m almost as good or just as good as he was.”
To Milner’s way of thinking, achieving a good state tournament run meant not being satisfied with just getting there.
“Once we got into the second weekend of districts, I told them how important placing first would be for a good draw at state,” he said. “Brian and Trevor had a big win in the district final in Cashmere over a tough Quincy team (Quincy went on to finish seventh). We already know we were going to State, but the focus they had to pull off a third set win that day proved to be valuable for a great draw.”
Most significantly, it meant not having to face the two-time defending champions until the final match.
The Tonasket pair faced off against Alex Wheeler and Kyle Canaday of Lind-Ritzville in the opener and breezed to a 6-0, 6-1 win.
“Usually State is at the Yakima Racquet Club, but they moved it this year to West Valley High School,” Terris said. “So they were just high school courts. Really nice ones, yeah, but it felt like we were here. It was a nerve-calming experience, because it was just another court.”
“We weren’t shell-shocked,” Hendrick said. “That really allowed us to play our best tennis.”
They needed that confidence in the quarterfinal match against Andrew Vargas and Sean Singco of LaSalle after losing the opening set 6-2. Hendrick and Terris adjusted to their opponents’ unusual style and took the last two sets 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals.
“They played differently – instead of a person up front and a person in back, they played both back,” Terris said. “Eventually it worked to our advantage.
“They had great serves and great forehands, which is what you need to get to state. They had it. They came out on fire. That team had drive, personality, and aggressive look on their faces. We had to play pretty inspired to beat them, but once we started slugging it at them instead of playing their game.”
“We were probably the best ‘baseliners’ there, even more than the state championship team,” Hendrick said. “It was a matter of settling in and playing our game.”
That brought on Collin Cremers and Nathan Furbeyr of Saint George’s in a Saturday morning match with the right to play for a state title on the line.
It was the worst match the pair played all weekend. After winning the opening set 6-4, the St. George’s pair took Set 2 6-1. Terris and Hendrick responded with a quick 6-0 win in the deciding set to clinch a spot in the championship.
“It was hard to get our energy going,” Hendrick said. “(St. George’s), it was hard to get anything from them as far as energy. We both played pretty crappy in the second set but turned it on in the third.”
Teddy and Phillip Grenley of Charles Wright have lost only one set in three years of state tournament play, last year against another team from their own school.
Though challenged in a 7-5, 7-5 semifinal win, they broke away from Terris and Hendrick, though the Tiger pair didn’t back down.
“We played a solid first five games,” Terris said. “It was 3-2, both of us broke a serve, then Brian held serve and they held serve.”
“They were just too good for us,” Hendrick said. “They played like monsters. They’ve played all year together for at least three years straight, against a us that have been playing together for four weeks. It was pretty epic.”
“Looking back, (switching to doubles) was a great decision,” Milner said. “I couldn’t be prouder. More importantly than a second place finish is that they are remarkable young men that will be successful in whatever road is laid before them.”
The players were quick to credit their new coach for helping them put a satisfying finishing touch on their high school careers.
“We have to give a lot of credit to Dave (Buccheim) for a lot of our fundamentals and basics,” Terris said, noting that if Milner hadn’t signed on he would have played baseball this spring. “But Mark is the one who got us there. He taught us to be legit double players.”
“He helped us put a bit of swagger into our game,” Hendrick said.
“I’d never been to State in anything, not even close,” Terris said. “It still hasn’t set in. Finally being able to see my name all the way through there and think of some kid looking at that, in awe that we took second and played those brothers strong, that feels good.”
Added Hendrick, “It feels like all that work finally paid off.”