NO matter how hard they swing, the rest of the province can't knock West Van schools Collingwood and Sentinel off the top of the high school tennis rankings.
The two dominant programs continued their mastery of the provincial championships with Sentinel winning their fourth consecutive AAA team title and Collingwood claiming its fifth straight AA title at the B.C. finals.
In the AA tournament, held last month at the Burnaby Tennis Club, Collingwood toppled Brentwood College 7-4 in the final matchup - the third straight time the Cavaliers have beaten Brentwood in the final - to keep their incredible championship streak alive.
Kelsey King, a Grade 12 player on her way to Western Michigan on a four year tennis scholarship, was named the outstanding girls singles player while Aidan Jarrar and Colton Kerfoot earned the outstanding boys doubles team award and Kyla Jarrar and Hailey Reeves were named the outstanding girls doubles team.
The Cavaliers also had contributions from a couple of high-level hockey prospects. Sam Reinhart, fresh off being named the Western Hockey League rookie of the year, returned to Collingwood after finishing his season with the Kootenay Ice.
"As soon as he came back (he) came right into our tennis team and was a huge factor in us winning," said Collingwood coach Al Rose. "He actually hit the winning shot that put us over the top."
Reinhart helped fill the void left by an injury to another hockey phenom - Alexander Kerfoot of the BCHL's Coquitlam Express, who broke his foot in a hockey game at the beginning of tennis season.
"They all have very good hands," Rose said about the hockey players who have helped Collingwood dominate tennis. "They have really good feel for spatial relations on the court. . . . You don't have to tell them where to stand, they can see where the ball is, they can see where they should be going, just like in hockey. And they're very competitive by nature and they're very good in pressure situations. They've been there in hockey where it's a minute to go and they're down a goal or whatever. Same in tennis - if it's deuce or game point or match point they've just been there, they're just athletes who've experienced other sports, which I think has really good carryover for them."
Many of the Collingwood girls are also stick swingers - on the field hockey pitch.
"I think being more than just a onesport athlete is really helpful for these kids," said Rose. "I've been in sports all my life and I've always believed that if you play in more than one sport it's so helpful for both sports. You just get a better perspective. Especially in a tough game like an individual sport like tennis is, I think it helps to build that character and teamwork kind of thing through your other team sports."
Sentinel, Meanwhile, won their fourth straight AAA title with a 7-4 victory over Vancouver's Magee secondary. Todd Fought was named the outstanding boys singles player and also teamed up with Dominique Beauvais to win outstanding mixed doubles award. Todd's father Rob Fought volunteered to coach the team when Sentinel's regular coach stepped down due to the teachers' job action.
Earlier this year Todd Fought won the boys 18-year-old division at the B.C. junior indoor provincial championships.