LEWISTON — Clark Fork will have four players representing the North Star League at the 3A state tennis tournament on Friday and Saturday, not small accomplishment for a 1A program, after a solid showing at the 2A District 1-2 tennis tournament last weekend in Lewiston.
Juniors Grace Shelton and Lily Simko finished fifth, nabbing the final state berth from the district in girls doubles, having to beat teammates Ellie Lambert and Sophie McMahon 6-3, 6-2 in the fifth place match to get there. It’s always a tough challenge when teammates have to face each other, but a silver lining is all four players will return next season with more experience.
En route to that match, Lambert and McMahon notched an impressive 2-6, 6-2 (10-7) win over eventual fourth place Grangeville, but fell just short in a 7-5, 4-6 (12-10) loss to Coeur d’Alene Charter that forced them into the fifth place match.
Simko and Shelton defeated Grangeville 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, before losing in straight sets to Orofino, before scoring the win over Lambert and McMahon.
“Both teams were just two points away from making it to state and avoiding having to eliminate their teammates and best friends. The fifth place contest was heartbreaking for all of them,” admitted head coach Jeff Emmer. “Such is the drama of tennis. Ellie in her second year and Sophie in her first played their best tennis and I am so incredibly proud of them.”
Also clinching a spot in boys doubles was the freshman team of Wesley Simko and Blaine Williams, who beat Orofino 6-2, 6-2 in the second round. They came up just short against Coeur d’Alene Charter 7-5, 6-4 in the third round, before bouncing back to beat Grangeville 6-4 6-0 to secure a trip to state. They lost in the consolation finals 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to Orofino to finish in 4th place, earning another valuable tune-up match for state.
“Wes and Blaine played the best tennis of their lives at districts,” lauded Emmer. “They just ran out of gas in the their last match knowing they had earned a trip to state. Both being first year freshmen, I know they will be hard to beat in the future.”
Madison Williams lost in straight sets to Grangeville in girls singles, before bouncing back to beat Orofino 6-1, 6-0 and Coeur d’Alene Charter 6-0, 6-0. In the consolation semis, she lost 6-1, 6-2 to Grangeville, before falling 6-2, 6-4 in the fifth place match, coming close to state.
“I was really impressed with how Madison got stronger every match,” claimed Emmer. “For a first year player to get so close to qualifying for state is incredible.”
The 3A state tennis tournament is Friday and Saturday in Caldwell.