SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Increased heart rates.
That could be the key for Sedro-Woolley girls’ tennis players Anna Rutherford and Maya Becerra if they are looking to improve on last year’s eighth-place doubles finish at the Class 2A State Tournament.
At least according to Becerra.
“We play better when our heart rates are up,” she said. “We play with more of a sense of urgency. You’ll see us always moving on the court.”
The duo’s heart rates will certainly be up Friday and Saturday when they compete in the state tournament at the University of Washington’s Nordstrom Tennis Center.
“It feels different this time around,” Becerra said. “I am definitely nervous, but we are ready.”
The two return to the state tournament a season wiser, and are focused on improving on last year’s finish.
Both said they are excited about returning to state — Rutherford as a junior and Becerra as a senior.
“We make a really good doubles team because we listen to each other,” Rutherford said. “Listening to each other helps us with what needs to be done.”
Added Becerra, “That state experience from a year ago is going to get us a step closer. We have that experience and we know how to play as a team. A year ago we lost because we were too nervous. Now we know what to expect.”
Sedro-Woolley coach Janine Van Liew has been impressed with the work ethic she has seen from from the pair whether they were playing doubles or singles.
Their competitiveness has shown through as they have improved throughout the season.
“They are both great singles players,” Van Liew said. “You put them together and they make a fantastic doubles team. They are also great students and are really easygoing. They have a good time out there on the court.”
Becerra and Rutherford began the season as the Cubs’ No. 1 and No. 2 singles players before combining talents in doubles.
“I definitely like playing doubles better,” Becerra said. “We talk after every point about what we need to do to improve. That communication is important.”
Rutherford said playing singles helps her doubles game, explaining it’s more swings at the ball for every point.
“In doubles, it nice having someone else out there,” Rutherford said. “It’s great to be back at state. Now we just want to stay longer.”
Extending that stay could be a matter of not letting the past repeat itself.
“The learning curve at state is a little steeper,” Van Liew said. “A year ago, they got into the winners bracket and it was a bit intimidating.”
The duo has fallen into a rut of slow starts this season, dropping the first set regularly before rallying to win.
That’s something they will like to change at state.
“They have to have a quicker start at state,” Van Liew said. “Hopefully, they can come out and don’t lose that first set, but if they do, they won’t get frustrated. They’ll figure it out. They work well together on the court and play well together. It’s exciting for us.”
Rutherford said the key is for she and Becerra to play their game from the start.
“Playing at the net and playing our game,” Rutherford said. “We have to keep playing well whether the ball is in or going out. We just have to play the way we know we can play.”