Encore: Kent tennis team will return to nationals

The Weakend Warriors are just as strong as ever on the tennis court.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, August 19, 2008 1:30pm
  • Sports

The Weakend Warriors are just as strong as ever on the tennis court.

The adult tennis team with the tongue-in-cheek nickname that plays out of Kent’s Boeing Employee Tennis Club, has qualified for the United States Tennis Association National Championships for the second straight year. They did it by virtue of three straight victories in the recent sectional competition in Portland.

“We’re still scratching our heads. We have no idea how we pulled that one out,” team captain Dan Benoit said with a laugh. “We were a little short-handed, managing vacations and sore knees. We managed to cobble together enough of a lineup to get it done.”

The Warriors got it done with a 3-2 victory against the Bremerton Tennis Athletic Club in the title match for their category on Aug. 10. And it came down to the last singles contest with Paul Raftis, whose family name is synonymous with tennis in Kent and specifically at Kent-Meridian High School.

Raftis, who now owns and operates Paolo’s Italian restaurant on Kent’s East Hill, came from behind for a 0-6, 7-5, 13-11 super-tiebreaker victory to provide the third and deciding point.

“We were trading (the lead) back and forth, and he had a couple match points,” Raftis said. “He was up 9-8, and I made a good passing shot, but he got to it and got it back. But it was out by about an inch. I kind of held my breath.

Given new life at 9-all, Raftis eventually pulled it out.

“He was on Cloud 9,” Benoit said.

The Warriors, who took second place at the 2.5 (bottom-rung) level in last year’s nationals, have moved up a notch to 3.0 this year. (The USTA level numbers are based on ability; the highest is 7.0 for elite and world-level players.)

Next stop will be Tucson, Ariz., for the nationals, set for Oct. 3-6.

“We’re definitely better than last year,” Benoit said. “And the competition is definitely better.”

The Warriors opened play on Aug. 8 with a 5-0 victory against Cascade Athletic Club. But it was much closer than that — three of the five matches went to the third-set super-tiebreaker (first to 10 points and ahead by two).

A 4-1 victory against the Tri-City Court Club the following day gave the Warriors first place in their three-team flight and a spot against Bremerton for the right to go to nationals.

The Kent crew won two of the three doubles matches: Benoit and Mike McClean in the No. 1 spot, then Dave Herron and Darren Griffin at No. 3. Bremerton got No. 2 doubles and No. 1 singles. That brought it down to Raftis in No. 2 singles for the trip to Tucson.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’re making it to Arizona,” said Raftis, who wasn’t part of last year’s team because players with high school experience — even if it was several years ago — aren’t allowed to compete at the 2.5 level. “We were missing three key players for our final match, but people got it together. We were like little boys after the match, really excited and shaking our heads that we were actually going.”

The Warriors used a total of 10 player between their three matches, with vacations, a family reunion and injuries all factoring into the rotating lineup.

The end result was the same as in 2007, however: a trip to nationals.

“Last year, we didn’t know what we were getting into at all,” Benoit said. “We had so much fun last year, so we did it again. There are a lot more teams at this (3.0) level. There were 22 local teams we had to get through before we got to sectionals.

“We’re having fun, and we’re getting better,” Benoit added.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

t
Kent News Female Athlete of the Week: Nashayla Fellows

Fellows has a top ten mark in the entire state for discus and shot put.

t
Kent News Male Athlete of the Week: Theo Carter

Carter has a top five time in the 400 and 800 in league.

Saul Rodriguez chases down an Auburn player in the second half. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kent-Meridian soccer falls to Auburn

Royals allowed two goals in first six minutes and couldn’t muster a comeback.

Dominic DesMarais pitches at T-Mobile Park against Lake Washington. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentridge snatches victory from jaws of defeat inside T-Mobile Park

Clutch hitting from Owen Finlayson along with solid pitching gives KR late life against Lake Washington.

Reese McGuire takes batting practice at T-Mobile Park for the Red Sox. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood grads meet again in the big leagues

Reese McGuire and Austin Voth made their MLB debut in 2018.

Sam Wah leaps over the hurdles en route to winning his race. Ben Ray / The Mirror
Track and field in action at French Field

Kent-Meridian and Kentridge host Federal Way and Thomas Jefferson.

t
Creativity is king when it comes to sports logos and mascots | Bench Talk with Ben Ray

So, what makes a good combination of logo and mascot? I think originality plays a huge factor.

Courtesy Photo
Kent News Male Athlete of the Week: Carson Hurt

Hurt scored the game winning goal against Auburn.

Courtesy Photo.
Kent News Female Athlete of the Week: Simran Samra

Samra has been one of the most outstanding performers on the tennis team.

t
Kent-based T-Birds fail to make WHL playoffs for first time since 2012

Seattle drops Portland on St. Patrick’s Day but playoff streak ends at 11 years

Sarah Wright eyes down the target as she pitches at Liberty High School. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Softball: Kentwood wins thriller in extra innings at Liberty

Sarah Wright dominated in the season opener with 20 strikeouts, no earned runs.

First panel of players sit in front of media members and fans inside the Ron Sandwith Teen Center. Photo Provided by Rodney McCurry.
Kent-based Seattle Majestics have a new leader and new energy

Women’s football team to play home games at French Field, next to Kent-Meridian High School