Jade Lancaster is good at tennis.
So good, in fact, the Sumner High freshman came into the tennis season already with the reputation of her not just competing at a high level. She came into her high school tennis career with the potential to be great.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I came into high school tennis,” Lancaster said. “I’ve been competing outside of high school, but I never had the chance to experience what the team environment is like, which is why chose to play for Sumner.”
Sumner knew Lancaster was coming. And how could the program not, with Lancaster entering her first year already a 4-star tennis recruit as well as the state’s fifth-ranked player, according to Tennis Recruit Network. She is the eighth-ranked player in the Northwest.
Nationally, Lancaster is ranked No. 265, but the Spartans’ top individual is quickly rising up the nation’s rankings with each win.
“The talent speaks for itself, but she works as hard as any player we’ve had,” Sumner co-coach Kathleen McGuire said. “And she came in humble, not wanting to take spots away from our seniors, because to her, they’ve been here. But they understand.”
Sumner (5-1) was already looking at a terrific season for the girls team. Seniors Lauren Baker and Kaitlyn Gianni each had the ability and talent to compete in the individual ranks.
The talent speaks for itself, but she works as hard as any player we’ve had. And she came in humble, not wanting to take spots away from our seniors, because to her, they’ve been here.
Sumner co-coach Kathleen McGuire
But seeing that Sumner was adding Lancaster and fellow freshman Zayla Jacobsen, the two senior leaders did what was best for the team.
“They came to us about wanting to compete in double(s) together,” McGuire said. “They understood the talent coming in, but to come to us without us approaching them says a lot about those two girls’ selflessness.”
McGuire’s co-coach, Spenser Phelan, agreed with the sentiment as the talent of his younger class has Sumner tennis buzzing.
“Lauren and Kaitlyn really displayed leadership when they could have been selfish and chose to stick as individuals,” Phelan said. “They knew the talent Jade has, so they made the choice to go playing together and allow Jade to get her career started quicker.”
Lauren (Baker) and Kaitlyn (Gianni) really displayed leadership when they could have been selfish and chose to stick as individuals. They knew the talent Jade has, so they made the choice to go playing together and allow Jade to get her career started quicker.
Sumner co-coach Spenser Phelan
Lancaster has started her career in style as the freshman entered the week with a 4-0 record in individual play — and 1-0 in doubles — as the Spartans’ top tennis player has won all but one of her matches with match sweeps (6-0 and 6-0).
The only set Lancaster has given up so far was on April 7 in her two-set win (6-0 and 6-1) against Peninsula High No. 1 Allie Barry.
“She’s was a good match for me because she did some things I haven’t seen before,” Lancaster said. “Her return (volley) kept me on my toes.”
Coming into the match, it was supposed to be Lancaster’s biggest challenge as Barry has the ability to reach the Class 3A state tournament come May. But she struggled with her serve, helping Lancaster coast to a win.
“I don’t expect all my matches to be like this, but I’ll take the win,” Lancaster said.
Sumner won the match, 5-0, over Peninsula, backed by the dominant play of the Spartans’ No. 1 player.
I feel as long as I play my game, I’ll be able to make it there.
As Sumner reaches its midpoint in the season, it’s time for Lancaster to shine and complete her inaugural quest of making it to Kennewick for the Class 3A state tournament.
“I feel as long as I play my game, I’ll be able to make it there,” she said.