Plesha tops Inland Empire field

SPOKANE - Sunnyside's Danny Plesha dominated the state's biggest stage last weekend in taking the boys title during the annual Inland Empire tennis tourney in Spokane.

"It's the biggest tourney in the state, the most prestigious in Eastern Washington," Grizzly Coach Troy Whittle said of the Inland Empire's field of 44 schools.

Plesha's tourney title in boys singles play led Sunnyside to an 11th place team finish. "That was easily the most dominant singles performance I've seen there," Whittle said of Plesha, who outscored his opponents by a combined 60-8 score during the tourney's two days.

After shutting out consecutive opponents in preliminary rounds, Plesha captured the crown by advancing to the finals with a 6-0, 6-0 win over University High School's Josh Steele. Plesha then brought home first place honors with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Brano Vallach, a Slovakian transfer student playing for Richland.

Also placing for Sunnyside were the No. 1 mixed doubles team of Jerika Martinez and Tyler Thompson, who finished third.

The duo beat a pair from Gonzaga Prep 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals, where they lost 6-2, 6-1 to two players from Richland. Martinez and Thompson rebounded for the win in the third/fourth place game by knocking off a duo from Mead 6-1, 6-3.

In No. 1 boys doubles, the Grizzlies' team of Jake Wavrin and Hunter Van deGraaf earned sixth-place honors. The duo had to win through the consolation round to medal for Sunnyside, including rallying from a 4-0 third set deficit to win 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 over a team from Sandpoint, Idaho.

Sunnyside's No. 2 boys doubles team of Jacob Kresse and Justin Snyder had a seventh place finish. Kresse and Snyder had to play two preliminary round opponents just to get into the consolation bracket, then held on for two three-set wins. That included a 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 marathon win over a team from Cheney to grab the seventh place honors.

Playing No. 2 singles, Mitchell Sanchez brought home seventh-place honors for Sunnyside, rallying from a tourney-opening loss to claim consecutive wins before losing to a Connell player 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in the consolation semifinals. Sanchez rebounded for a 6-4, 6-2 win over a Medical Lake player in the seventh/eighth place match.

In other competition, Jesus Alquicira and Jessica Gudino split two matches for Sunnyside in No. 2 mixed doubles play.

Sunnyside's Regina Mendez went 2-1 during the tourney at No. 1 girls singles.

In No. 1 doubles play, Hannah Paulakis and Capri Miles lost both of their matches at the tourney.

Helen Shuttleworth also lost a pair of matches in girls No. 2 singles play for Sunnyside.

"It was a great tune-up for Districts," Whittle said of the tourney, in which Sunnyside won 21 of 34 matches it played.

"It kind of gives us a snap shot of the program," he added. "We were 11th out of 44 teams. We beat a lot of 4A schools and were within five or six points of being in fifth or sixth place."

Whittle said the level of competition was also good for Sunnyside's upper level players, such as Plesha.

"We got in some high quality work, and got to hit against some good people."

The Sunnyside tennis teams close out the regular season at home today against West Valley.


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