Paul Valencia column: Crush the ball, make it to the ball

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Megan Giesbers could sense the clock moving, and it was moving way too fast to her liking.

So she picked up her game, in order to pick up the pace.

Giesbers and tennis partner Taylor Beardall of Battle Ground had more than one mission to accomplish Saturday at the bi-district tournament in Auburn. Yeah, they had to win two matches in order to earn a spot at the Class 4A state tournament, but they also had to get Giesbers back to Vancouver in time for the prom.

“She served the best in the world. She kept acing them,” Beardall said.

“It was time to go. It was time to leave,” Giesbers recalled.

“She kept smashing the ball,” Beardall explained.

“As hard as I could,” Giesbers said.

“But it was working,” Beardall said.

A couple of straight-set victories and Giesbers, a senior, and Beardall, a sophomore, had clinched their spot to state. They celebrated -- quickly -- then Giesbers began the frantic trek back home.

Not only is the prom the biggest social event of the year for a high school senior, Giesbers also was on the court. A princess cannot miss the ball, right?

But before attending the ball, this princess had to crush the ball.

By seeding, the Giesbers-Beardall team did not appear to be a threat to make it to state. The two ended up third in the Class 4A District 4 tournament after suffering through a miserable match. As third-place finishers, they had to win a pigtail match Friday night just to make it to bi-district. Then they had to face the top seed on Saturday.

A loss in that first round sent them to the consolation bracket. That left them needing to win two in a row to make it to state. For a split second, there was a thought that crept into Giesbers’ mind: Playing two matches might mean missing the big night.

“I had to decide whether to default the match or play,” Giesbers said.

Of course, this is doubles play, not singles.

“Taylor said, ‘We’re playing.’”

And that was that.

“Since the beginning of last season, we knew we wanted to play together and go on a run before Megan graduated,” Beardall said.

The Tigers won their first consolation match. And this is where things could have turned real complicated. Normally, tennis players get a break between matches, time to recover, time to refocus. But Giesbers asked tournament officials to skip the break. Officials were fine with the idea, but the other team had to agree. The other girls understood the significance.

Just minutes after winning that first match, Giesbers and Beardall were playing again. They won 6-1, 6-3.

Giesbers picked up Beardall in the celebration. Fortunately, she set her down before racing to the car.

“We were beyond excited. Beyond anywhere where we thought we would be,” Giesbers said.

They were going to state.

“In our minds, we didn’t really believe it,” Beardall said.

“We didn’t truly believe until we actually did it,” Giesbers said.

With Giesbers’ father driving, they all hit I-5 about 6 p.m. A quick stop at an uncle’s house in Olympia to shower, Giesbers also put curls in her hair. On the rest of the way down, she slipped into her dress, applied her makeup, and finished her hair.

The only thing missing: Her beautiful fake nails that Beardall applied on Friday night all had broken off in that final match. The cost of being an athlete.

Her date, Battle Ground senior Dean Fortin, was ready when Giesbers got home. They made it to the Vancouver Hilton around 9:30, in time for the court festivities.

“I kind of got the best of both worlds,” Giesbers said. “We’re going to state, and I got to go to prom.”

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valencia@columbian.com