Doubles pair Logan Chmielewski and Cole Walker earn a state berth as North Kitsap won the team title
BREMERTON — Logan Chmielewski and Cole Walker of North Kitsap went into the West Central District 2A boys tennis tournament as the Olympic League’s No. 1 seed.
They left with a district title and another No. 1 seed, this time to the state tournament in May.
Chmielewski and Walker beat Milo Whitman and Wyatt Hall of Port Angeles, the same duo they defeated in the Olympic League a week earlier, 6-2, 6-2 Saturday at the Kitsap Tennis & Athletic Center. The Vikings also won the team title over Fife.
It’s also a bit of redemption for Chmielewski who lost in last year’s district title match with then-partner Jared Reister.
“I thought we played our best and it was just good to go out there and win,” Chmielewski said.
He was just as pleased to return to state with his new partner.
“We’ve had this in the making for a couple years now,” he said. “We’ve known we were going to play with each other and Cole’s a good player.”
“I tried to play singles and realized I’m really slow,” Walker said, adding “it’s a dream come true” to qualify for state.
Walker, who played junior varsity last season and will head to state for the first time, said in their last meeting with the PA’s Whitman and Hall, they kind of imploded.
“We lost five or six games and today we just kept our head and kept hitting balls we knew we could get in and took it one game at a time,” Walker said, “Good Lord willing.”
Chmielewski said it came down to not trying to hit overpowering winners when they didn’t have to, instead pursuing more of a mistake-free route being the better road to win the match.
“We just took them when we could,” he said.
It wasn’t a surprise to either team they wound up facing each other in the district finals. Playing each other during the season doesn’t give either team much of an advantage in terms of strategy, but Chmielewski and Walker knew what was at stake.
“The last match they killed us when we didn’t take the net and weren’t as aggressive,” Chmielewski said. “So this one we did a lot of pushing toward the net right off of our serves.”
The service game also turned out to be a key for the North Kitsap pair. With Hall being the better server — Chmielewski said they hadn’t won a game off him all season — the pair succeeded in breaking his serve early in the match and that set them up nicely in the first set.
“They also killed us on our second serves so for the past week we’ve been working on first serves and placement,” Walker said. “That really helped us.”
North is also sending a second doubles team, Josh Smith and Drake Jones who beat Fife’s Cody Ahn and Logan Groves in the third/fourth seeding match. In singles, North’s Chris Schuchert survived loser-out matches to earn the seventh seed.
NOTE: The 4A and 1A district tournaments were not updated as of Saturday evening. This story will be updated when the brackets have been updated.