Chris Elliott and Christian Anderson started playing together as children and they nearly won state last season.
Sometimes, timing really is everything.
Take the case of Chris Elliott and Christian Anderson, the Mercer Island tennis doubles team that finished second at the Class 3A state meet last May. Elliott and Anderson led the way for the Islanders, who won their sixth consecutive state team title in the Tri-Cities.
“Christian and I have known each other for a very long time,” Elliott said. “Our parents know each other.”
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Newport: The Knights have won four of the past five Class 4A team titles. After winning three in a row from 2012-14, Newport beat defending champ Olympia (which tied with Lewis and Clark in 2015) in May to try to start a new streak.
Mercer Island: The Islanders are working on a string of six consecutive Class 3A state team titles. With almost guaranteed points into the doubles semifinals assured thanks to the team of Chris Elliott and Christian Anderson, coach Ryan Pang can focus on his singles players to keep the streak going.
Seattle Prep: The Panthers are comfortable at or near the top of the Class 3A state ranks. Seattle Prep has finished either first or second in the team race in 14 of the past 18 seasons. The Panthers have four titles, and last year earned their 10th runner-up finish. With Aaron Yuan back, expect another such run next spring.
Liberty: The Patriots were second to Sehome for the Class 2A title last May, and relied on their doubles teams to get there. Both teams that placed in 2016 return for Liberty, with third-place finishers Cody Hughes (senior) and Marco Sobrino (junior) leading the way. Brother tandem Ethan and Bryan Le, a senior and sophomore, were fourth.
Shorecrest: The 2015 Class 2A champs were third a year ago thanks in large part to the doubles title won by Daniel Wacker and Faiz Khan. Wacker graduated, but Khan returns for the Highlanders as they try to climb back to the top of the mountain in 2017.
The pair met when they were 8 or 9 years old. At age 10, they started playing doubles in tournaments through the Mercer Island Country Club. Three years later, since Anderson is a year ahead of Elliott, the partnership ended.
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That is, until Elliott walked onto the campus at Mercer Island High last August, and turned out for the tennis team as a freshman. There was Anderson, a sophomore, and the boys rekindled their friendship — and playing partnership.
“I was kind of excited to see him,” Anderson said. “When we were deciding what we wanted to play, I think it definitely helped because we were confident in each other. I thought Chris was a great partner, so we might as well try it again.”
The duo paid off the Islanders with a state run that landed them in the Class 3A doubles final against Garfield senior Oscar Burney and his partner Brad Huffaker. Elliott and Anderson pushed the Bulldogs to a third-set tiebreaker before finally falling 6-3, 2-6, 7-6.
But that made things easy this fall when it came to deciding between singles and doubles, said Mercer Island coach Ryan Pang.
“I think they really want to try to win state,” Pang said. “Being so close as they were last year, they definitely want to win it.”
For Pang, he can send his two best players off to prepare while he works on the depth of this year’s team.
Pang expects the Islanders will advance at least one singles player to the state tournament next May 26-27 at Kamiakin High and the Tri-City Court Club.
“But he’ll be a novice, experience-wise,” Pang said. “But I can spend a lot more time with them.”
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Seattle Prep, Jr.
Outlook: Was a Class 3A state placer as a freshman and sophomore. Just one more place to go up after he finished second a year ago.
Outlook: The Tennis Recruiting Network has the Wolf as the No. 2 junior recruit in Washington and No. 8 in the Northwest overall.
Outlook: He and partner Sarusaud won a first-round state doubles match.
Outlook: With partner Chao were eliminated by a team from Gonzaga Prep one match shy of the 4th/7th place consolation.
Outlook: He and brother Alex won the 4A doubles title match last May, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, over teammates Derek Huang and Travis Kayahara.
As for this fall’s regular-season schedule and KingCo tournament at a yet-to-be-determined site in October, Elliott and Anderson might play some singles in some dual matches in addition to playing doubles at others.
What the pair knows for sure is that come time for the district meet and state next May, they’ll be standing with each other on the court, going for a title. Longtime friends competing together for the same end.
“Yeah, it worked out really nicely,” Elliott said. “We each have someone to play with throughout high school.”