Several tennis players show early season promise

SNOQUALMIE - Just a few matches into their 2005 season, the performances of two Mount Si tennis stars have the program abuzz about what may lie ahead.

Freshman Erika Strine and junior Alina Plavsky, number one and two singles players for the Wildcats respectively, are a combined 13-1 as of spring break. Strine is undefeated at 7-0, and Mount Si Coach Sue Gallacher could not be happier.

"It's awesome. She's a freshman and she's just been outstanding. But you know, the rest of the team we're very inexperienced, and the whole team has done an awesome job, so I couldn't be more pleased," Gallacher said.

The coach said this is the first time in her eight years of coaching girls tennis that one of her athletes (and a freshman at that) has gone undefeated this far into the season.

Strine says a number of things are helping her succeed.

"Consistency, never give up, and I'm trying to come into the net more," Strine said.

According to Strine's teammate, junior Britta Safstrom, maturity has also been key to the freshman's success.

"It doesn't really seem like she's a freshman, because she's so mature on the court. And the way she plays, you watch and you learn, and she's just aggressive, and we all look at that and take that into our own matches," Safstrom said.

Gallacher is also impressed with Plavsky, who is 6-1.

"She played number five singles last year, so it's a big bump to go from five to number two in the Kingco," Gallacher said.

Safstrom, who is the Wildcats' number four singles player this season, and part of the number two doubles combination (paired with senior Nicole Vanourek), said she likes Plavsky's leadership style.

"Alina always works hard. She always makes sure that everyone else is working hard, and she'll let you know if you aren't," Safstrom said.

Strine and Plavsky form the top doubles unit for Mount Si, and Strine says Plavsky is helping her out a lot.

"She's very aggressive, and that helps me not be so nervous out there, and to be aggressive, too," Strine said.

Gallacher noted that the toughest part of their schedule is still ahead, against the likes of Bellevue, Newport and Mercer Island. Safstrom thinks the team's success against their rivals rests on the shoulders of their two stars, and if they succeed the team may benefit.

"If they stay focused, they can do it. If they cut down on their unforced errors, definitely, because they have the fire to do it, and when you see someone working that hard, you don't want to let the team down, you want to work together," Safstrom said.

And the future may be bright, since both Strine and Plavsky will be eligible to return next season.

"For sure, maybe not this year, but down the line if some of the younger kids play a bunch of tennis, then we're in good shape," Gallacher said.

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