Olympia High tennis coach Denny Bailey faced a quandary.
Granted, it was an envious, embarrassment-of-riches situation to resolve, but a problem nonetheless.
In 2010, Hunter Wood and John Stormans were top players on the Bears’ roster. Then Will Topp, the defending 2A state champion from Sehome High School in Bellingham, transferred in.
Because only two singles players can advance to the Class 4A state championships from the Narrows League, what was Bailey to do with three
“I was talking it over with the assistant coaches, and I threw out the idea of having Hunter and John play doubles, and have Will be our No. 1 (singles player),” Bailey said. “Will was new here, and Hunter and John had known each other forever. We thought it could work.”
Before Bailey had a chance to discuss this scenario with his players, Wood and Stormans approached him with the very same suggestion.
“It was pretty spontaneous,” Wood said of the decision. “We didn’t think about it too much. We just kind of ran with it.”
The selfless act ultimately spelled doom for the rest of the state’s doubles squads.
The duo dominated the competition last year, failing to drop a single set en route to capturing the 4A state title – the school’s first since 1983.
“You can have two skilled singles (players), but that doesn’t always translate to a successful doubles team,” Bailey said. “The key to doubles is communication and chemistry. You have breakdowns if you don’t have that.”
Chemistry, both on and off the court, was something Wood and Stormans have an abundance of. They’ve been friends as long as either can remember.
Even after Topp graduated last season, Wood, a senior, and Stormans, a junior, elected to maintain their tandem.
The results have been equally impressive this year as the team captured its second consecutive league and West Central/Southwest bi-district crowns.
Their final goal is to win another state title. Should Wood and Stormans accomplish that, they would become the first pair to win consecutive 4A state doubles titles since Bellarmine Prep’s Brian McPhee and Simon Meske in 2007.
“There is a lot of pressure,” Stormans said about the back-to-back bid. “We definitely have a target on our backs. We just try to stay focused.”
Their quest begins today in Richland with a first-round matchup against Allen Kim and Matt Sham of Newport High School in Bellevue.
After this season concludes, Woods will head off to the University of California Santa Barbara on an academic scholarship. And Stormans will get his shot to play singles next year as a senior.
“Both are very accurate, very smart players. They can overpower anybody,” Bailey said. “On paper they should defend.”