For the the 10th time since the state tournament for Alaska high school tennis was established in 2007, West Anchorage High reigned supreme and was crowned 2022 champions at the conclusion of the three-day event.
Only West and South have ever claimed state titles in tennis and the Eagles were able to claim their fourth straight after compiling 155 team points. The Wolverines came in as a distant second with 75 points. Including the 2020 season where they had the most top finishers of any team but no scores were counted, the Eagles have five straight state titles.
“The kids did great,” West head coach Bill Cotton said. “This year we had a little less at the top of the game although we did a lot better there than I thought.”
West won individual state titles in both boys and girls doubles and came in second in mixed doubles. But the Eagles were propelled to another team championship by a strong showing from their tremendous depth along with their top finishers.
Cyrus Clendaniel and Jude Cebrian won boys doubles, Eva Lief and Lillian Yang won girls doubles, and Will Sedwick and Ava Smith came in second in mixed doubles.
“My freshman year I didn’t even make state and last year I got fifth so it’s really cool to just get the title,” said Clendaniel who has been competing in boys doubles for the past three years.
In addition to those finishers, the Eagles had four other pairings or individuals place at the state tournament. Leo Zimmer and Kian Flynn finished fourth in boys doubles, Lavinia Li and Lauren O’Leary came in fourth in girls doubles, Ryan Cebrian came in fourth in boys singles, and Antonia Yu came in fourth in girls singles.
“It gave us a total of 60 extra points which was really the difference between us and the other teams because there were a lot of great players in this tournament,” Cotton said.
In his eyes the most exciting match for the Eagles in the final came in the girls doubles division where Lief and Young went blow for blow with Dimond’s Meghan Spils and Delaney Fagerstrom.
“When they played the first time at state West won, when they played the second time in the finals Dimond won,” Cotton said. “They had to play a third time and West eked it out.”
This marked the third year in a row that a pairing from West won the girls doubles at state division with a different pairing each year. Cotton and his staff decided to split up last year’s dynamic duo of Lief and Yu so that they could better increase their chances of earning more team points in matches and tournaments.
Cotton saw incredible improvement Yang throughout the course of the season but believes she took her game to the next level in the postseason.
“Ava played great the whole time and Lillian just improved all year and especially this last week,” he said.
Clendaniel and Cebrian played a tough finals match against a pair of opponents who they were very familiar with in Dimond’s Andre Teasley and Tae Yoon. They played each other three times prior in close matches in which they came out on top. Clendaniel and Cebrian won 6-2, 7-6 in Saturday’s final.
“The first set went by pretty easily and that second set is where it got really tough,” Clendaniel said. “It was just point after point, didn’t know what was going to happen but we just kept fighting through it.”
Clendaniel and Cebrian were won of several players that finally got over the hump and won their first title on Saturday. It was better late than never for Juneau senior Katie Pikul who took home the girls singles state championship after besting top-seeded Allya Pedalino of Service in an extra game.
“I lost the first-round match and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to place so it’s incredible,” Pikul said.
She made it to state last year but came up short of making the finals and placed third. Both Pikul and Pedalino fought through cramps to finish the match that Pikul took in straight sets.
“There were sometimes I wasn’t sure if my swings were working and I was like ‘this is the last match I’ll ever play in high school’ so I’m just going to put everything that I’ve got into this match.”
The boys singles championship was one of the most competitive battles of the tournament as South’s Aaron Griffin and Service’s Ulysses Escobar continued their battle that has been ongoing all season. In the final, Griffin prevailed in a third-set tiebreak to take the title.
Visit our sponsors
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.