Basketball, volleyball stars discover tennis
Three weeks ago, Jenna Korolek played tennis for the first time.
Justine Guillet, her opponent Wednesday in the girls’ singles final at the North Central zone high school championship at Prince George Tennis Club, had just two weeks to get into the swing of things, having never played the game before that.
As tennis neophytes, they were experts at disguising their lack of experience, and it took a tiebreaker to decide who was the better of the two.
Korolek won the single-set match 4-3 (8), ending it with a baseline return that landed at Guillet’s feet, forcing her to rush a shot that landed out of bounds. That gave Korolek and 8-6 win in the tiebreaker, after seeing a 4-0 lead evaporate.
For Korolek, a provincial basketball team point guard in her senior year at Kelly Road Secondary School, joining the tennis team was just another outlet for her athleticism and having a high level of fitness helped her gain the upper hand.
“I’d say our matches were pretty evened out, it was always like Game 1 we both evened out, but then I think (her opponents) started getting more tired but my endurance was kind of up and that really helped,” said Korolek.
“I’m used to running a lot. That helps especially in singles. It’s a lot of running back, and we had a lot of good hits and rallies. Going to the tiebreaker was awesome.”
Guillet, whose father Jay is longtime coach of successful high school volleyball teams in the city, was born into a volleyball family and she’s taken her game to the highest level as a provincial team right-side hitter.
Guillet’s agility and leaping ability came in handy several times Wednesday when she had a tennis racquet in her hand. Korolek’s smart shot selection in the final kept her on the move.
“That was a close game, I’m still out of breath,” said Guillet, who learned both sports from College Heights tennis/volleyball coach J.P. Martin.
“I think for this game and in general my volleyball skills transferred over because I kind of just learned to play tennis. I didn’t hear about the season starting at College Heights so we just had a practice last week and I was just doing it for fun because my friends were doing it. I love it.”
Like Guillet, Korolek intends to stick with tennis, now that she’s learned some of the basics playing on the Kelly Road team coached by Todd Kuc.
“I will play with my dad and cousins more because they always come out with their friends,” said Korolek.
“I might come out with them now that I actually know how to play the game.”
Korolek and her Kelly Road doubles partner Naomi Dugdale lost 4-2 in the final to Stasha Telford and Tessa Sturgeon of Prince George Secondary School. Korolek/Dugdale were seeded No. 1 going into the zone tournament, based on league play days between the schools in May, while Telford/Sturgeon were seeded seventh.
“We played them before (in league play) and they were really good,” said Telford, also a firstyear player.
“Today’s match was good, there was some nice serves and good hits and lots of strong rallies. We returned it more and we were very strategic on where we were putting the ball.”
The school season started in March and teams met for practice sessions at the PGTC on Wednesdays, going through the entire season without a rainout.
The sky opened up a bit Wednesday morning but only for a brief shower.
The players got out the squeegees and the courts dried quickly to allow play to resume.
Evan Crobar of PGSS successfully defended his boys singles title from last year’s zone tournament, defeating Nick Jansa of Kelly Road 4-1 in Wednesday’s final. Crobar, who was just three years old when starting playing tennis with his dad Robert.
“I just do things like this for fun,” said Crobar.
“The final was pretty tight, every game went to deuces but the score didn’t show it. Sometimes I could serve him out. He was strong with mixing up his shots, he placed the ball well and I had to run around.”
Crobar later teamed up with Jaxson Danilec in to win the boys double title. They swept Matt Shand/Nolan Minck of College Heights 4-0 in the final.
Crobar played rep hockey until a year ago when he was with the midget tier two Cougars.
Now that his minor hockey career is behind him he has more time for other sports like tennis and he says he’ll consider entering the Prince George club’s tournaments later this month and in early September.
In the bronze medal matches, Johvan Janjua/Logan Vennberg of PGSS defeated Rychel Lamber/ Nick Jensa 4-1 in boys doubles; Ava Wedel/Sasha Schurack topped Emily MacDonald/Aysha Madsen of College Heights 4-1 in girls doubles; Reese Desmarais of College Heights blanked Ava Wedel of PGSS 4-0 in girls singles; Alex Ochitwa of PGSS posted a 4-1 win over Rychel Lamber of Kelly Road.
The one-day tournament drew 40 players from three schools. PGSS, which entered 28 players coached by RJay Berra, took the team title.
Jenna Korolek from Kelly Road Secondary School was competing in the girls final of the high school zone tennis tournament on Wednesday.
Justine Guillet from College Heights Secondary was competing in the girls final of the high school zone tennis tournament held Wednesday at the Prince George Tennis Club.