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Cole Benner and Alex Harris power through double state experience of tennis and soccer

Playing two matches of tennis doesn't keep pair from helping soccer team win semifinal match

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: May 26, 2023, 11:30pm

The day started with a loss to Sehome for Cole Benner and Alex Harris.

But it ended with an even bigger win over the Mariners for the Columbia River seniors

Benner and Harris successfully navigated an unusual day that started at the 2A tennis state tournament and ended with a win in the 2A state soccer semifinals.

“I mean it’s definitely tiring, but honestly it’s more of a mentality,” Harris said. “Like if we just get over the thought of being tired and just push through for feelings like this. They’re unmatched feelings.’

Last fall, Benner and Harris were looking for a sport to play in the fall season of their senior year of high school.

“It was between (tennis) and golf for us,” Benner said. “So we were like we play golf enough on our own, so we might as well try out for tennis. And we’ve had some success with it.”

Playing as doubles partners, Benner and Harris qualified for the state tournament.

But there was a hitch. The state tennis tournament is played over the same two days of the state semifinal and championship match for soccer. Benner and Harris are team captains for the top-seeded River soccer team.

Luckily, the tournaments aren’t played too far apart – about 25 miles to be exact.

So Benner and Harris started Friday playing a match at 8 a.m. at the Nordstrom Tennis Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. They lost their first-round match to a team from Sehome.

But they rebounded to win their first consolation match in the early afternoon, finishing about five hours before their scheduled 7 p.m. soccer match against Sehome in Renton.

“We played two tennis games, then relaxed a little bit at the hotel,” Harris said. “We got our legs back, took a good nap and came out here and played.”

The Rapids got the win, winning 2-1, Friday night, which will make Saturday a lot easier for the pair.

They will return to Seattle for another loser-out match at 8 a.m. Saturday. If they win that, then they will play for fifth place around noon.

“We’re not really tennis players so we don’t have that high of expectations,” Harris said. “We’re trying to place as high as we can.”

Then they will get a few hours to rest up for their 6 p.m. championship soccer match back in Renton against North Kitsap.

Despite the busy weekend, Benner said he doesn’t feel playing tennis will take anything away from what the two seniors will be able to give to soccer on Saturday night.

“It’s still a lot to handle, but I think we’re all conditioned,” Benner said. “We’ve been doing this for a couple of months now Everybody has the endurance. … And with how exciting these (soccer) games are, you can’t get tired.”

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