Getting to state in any sport is difficult, but try punching your ticket against your teammates who know your game better than anyone else.
This scenario happened to Clark Fork girls doubles duo Lily Simko and Ellie Kiebert, who outlasted their teammates Elle Lambert and Sophie McMahon during the 3A District 1 tennis tournament last Saturday. To their credit, the four Lady Cats put on a three-set showdown for the last bid, with the aforementioned Simko-Kiebert team coming back from a 4-6 loss to win in three sets. Yet this war of attrition is nothing new: The final state berth came down to Clark Fork versus Clark Fork last year too. Simko, the only Lady Cat with state tennis experience, went to state for doubles with Eloise Shelton, who graduated last spring.
Simko and Kiebert are one of two Clark Fork tennis teams that will represent Clark Fork at the 3A State Tennis tournament this week. The other team also has a Simko — that’d be Lily’s younger brother, Wesley — and Blaine Williams, who will be competing in boys doubles. Wesley Simko and Williams made it to the quarterfinals of the 3A District 1 boys doubles bracket before falling to the eventual champions from Coeur d’Alene Charter, Brandon King and Gabe Kalamani.
Yet Simko and Williams battled back in the consolation bracket, dispatching opponents from CDA Charter and Grangeville with 6-0, 6-1 routs for a third-place districts finish.
Of the teams the Wampus Cats will take to state, Simko and Williams are the only team with prior state experience as a unit. Last May, the duo fell in the first round to Fruitland brothers Joe and Josh Henggeler, who went on to place third.
The 3A Idaho State Tennis Championships will be held on May 17-18 at Ridgevue High School and Sage Valley Middle School, both of which are located in Nampa. Simko and Kiebert will play at Ridgevue, while Wesley Simko and Williams will play at Sage Valley Middle School. Should the latter advance to the championship or consolation bracket finals, the boys will move to Ridgevue High School on Saturday.