A chat with state-bound Meadowdale High School tennis players

From left, Grant Lovell, Josie Dow, Alex Casper and Scott Bohmke will represent Meadowdale at the state 3A tennis tournament in Kennewick starting Friday.

By Quint Turner

State 3A titles are on the line starting Friday for Meadowdale High School tennis players Scott Bohmke, Grant Lovell, Alex Casper and the sole Lady Maverick, Josie Dow. Bohmke and Lovell are a doubles team, while Casper and Dow will be representing MHS as singles in Kennewick. My Edmonds News caught up with these busy Mavericks as they prepared for the tournament this week under Coach Mark Schneider.

We’ll start with Alex Casper.

Quint: You’ve been practicing since fall when you found out that you’re in the state tournament. How have you maintained focus?
Alex: I play year-round in tournaments and play with my private coach just to get me keep competing in order to prepare and keep my level of play high.

Q: Do you train in any additional ways besides just going out and playing tennis?
A: I actually play matches and practice three to four days a week, hit the gym for stationary bikes. I work on cardio a lot to help keep my body in shape. I also do a lot of reps for weights when I go and lift them at the gym.

Q: What would you say would be best part of your game?
A: Probably my serve at this point. I get a lot of points off of my serve.

Q: Have you clocked it yet?
A: I clocked it at 113 down at Harbor Square.

Q: Do you practice it a lot?
A: Yeah, but I basically do everything when I practice. I don’t practice just one stroke at a practice.

Q: What would you say would be your style of play?
A: I am an aggressive counterpuncher, if that makes sense. I try to play offense, but I won’t push the opponent until he hits a weak shot and then I can counterattack and get some opportunities to close out the point. So I’d guess I’d say defensive but I try to get to the net a lot.

Q: Do you know where you’re going to college?
A: I want to play with Azusa Pacific University down in California.

Q: Do they have a good tennis program or are you going there for academics?
A: They definitely have a good tennis program and academics program. I could’ve changed colleges, but its just win-win to go at Azusa.

Q: What are you most excited about for state?
A: The thing I’m most excited for is to go out and play in front of my family and friends that don’t normally get to see me play a lot. My grandparents are coming up from California to watch, so it should be fun

Next up, Josie Dow:

Q: You haven’t had the same problem as boys in that your season is just before state, because the girls’ team plays in spring, but do you still practice over the winter with the boys?
Josie: I train year-round, so I was training with my private coach, and I definitely was hitting around with some of them. I work and play with two of them at Harbor Square so we’re always playing around each other. And it’s really nice to go together with all the boys since they’ve been really supportive for us, so I get to try and return that favor.

Q: Do you have any specialized training?
J: I do a lot of fitness training on my own. I hit with my friends and coaches to try and get better, since it’s my last year and I just want to have the best year.

Q: So what would you say would be the best part of your game?
J: I’d say my mental part of my game, just my focus. I haven’t been playing since I was little so I have a lot of drive and I’m not burned out. I’m incredibly excited to not peak and just get better and play into college.

Q: You started playing tennis as a sophomore? And you made it to state junior year? How’d that happen?
J: I was alternate sophomore year, and state last year. I may not have the best strokes, and be a bit unorthodox, but I’ve gotten to state due to working really hard and just being focused completely on tennis year-round and that’s what’s gotten me into the tournaments.

Q: What would be your style of play? Aggressive, baseline, other?
J: I definitely hit with a lot of guys and am used to fastballs, so I’m used to playing power since the boys have trained me to play fast. That power gives me an advantage over some players who might not be used to a lot of power or a fast-paced game.

Q: Do you know how fast your serve is?
J: I don’t!

Q: You haven’t clocked it?
J: Not since sophomore year. On a good day, it’s maybe 60-70, but it’s been a while.

Q: So do you know where you are going to college and if you’re playing for tennis there?
J: I do. I’m going to university of Puget Sound, but since I wasn’t recruited for tennis, I mainly am going there for academics and I’ll try out for tennis then. I’ll be very happy if I can go out and play for them and also get a great education.

Next up, Scott Bohmke:

Q: How have you practiced since fall and remained sharp?
Scott: Preparation. We were really excited for state, so for us it wasn’t a problem to get out there and practice whether or not we were going to state. We just love playing tennis and getting out there and improving regardless. That wasn’t too much of a problem for us.

Q: So how do you train? Do you go out there everyday, do you lift weights? What do you do?
S: Usually tennis pros are the only ones who need to lift weights, and for our level, all you really need to do is have your fitness level be high enough and that involves getting lots and lots of matches.

Q: What do you think would be the best part of your game?
S: Well, my double partner is Grant and the best part of our game would be how aggressive we are at getting to the net and how fast we are able to finish off points.

Q: What would you say would be the best part of your partner’s game?
S: Well I’d say his volleys. He’s so quick at the net, and gets there so quick, and not many do that so naturally, and he finishes off points really well as well.

Q: How exactly do you play your game? Do you play aggressively, baseline, another style?
S: Well in doubles, a great way to be aggressive is with court position, and we want to get to the net from down the middle to make sure we’re getting there and then be able to slam short balls from there with the better angles getting to the net provides.

Q: Do you know how fast your serve is?
S: No, never clocked it, but it’s fast.

Q: Fast enough to set up Grant for easy volleys?
S: Yeah.

Q: Do you know where you’re going to college?
S: Yeah, ASU but it doesn’t have a men’s team, so I’ll be on a club. But I’ll definitely be playing tennis there.

Q: Is Grant going with you?
S: No, he’s going to Edmonds and then transferring out to UW.

Q: What are you looking forward to most at the state tournament?
S: Oh my gosh. Pretty much everything. Spending time with your friends and family, and it’s like a test over the entire tennis year, and it’s just a lot of fun to go up there and play the sport I love.

Finally, Grant Lovell:

Q: How have you retained your mental toughness for the state tournament?
Grant: Actually my mental game is what suffers the most, but Scott helps me be positive. It is still something I need to improve on for college and the like.

Q: How do you train outside of just playing more matches?
G: I’m just trying to stay in shape as well as I can and be fit to keep up with the others’ endurance. Hitting as much as you can is also important.

Q: What would you say would be the best part of your game?
G: I don’t really like that much of my game, but if I had to choose a piece it would probably be my forehand. I like it a lot.

Q: What would you say would be the best part of your partner Scott’s game?
G: I’d probably say his volleys. They are awesome, and he has really good reaction time, and if anyone would try to get a shot past him, he could get to it easy.

Q: That’s funny, ’cause he said that volleys were also your best part of your game.
G: Really?

Q: Yeah. Do you know how fast your serve is?
G: Haven’t had it clocked, but I’d estimate 90 MPH or so.

Q: What style of game do you play? Aggressive? Baseline?
G: In doubles, what you have to do is get to the net as fast as possible. Without a good net game, you don’t succeed.

Q: What college are you going to?
G: I’m going to a community college first, and then transferring out to the UW after getting my core classes done.

Q: What are you most excited about state?
G: Just to do better than our seventh-place finish last year, and go out and have some fun in front of friends and family.

Sports contributor Quint Turner is a student at Meadowdale High School.

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