DEREK CLARKSTON/Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s Josh Barnett hits a ball during a high school tennis practice earlier this season Baranof Park. 

Max Pyles tries not to think about it, but as every day passes, he can’t help himself. 

This weekend marks the final time Pyles and five of his friends will represent Kodiak High School on a tennis court.

“It is going to be pretty rough,” Pyles said. “We have all been playing with each other these last four years. We have become family over the years; it is going to be difficult to say bye to everybody.”

Pyles, Josh Barnett, Hirome Kageyama, Ila Abad, Bella Goble and Luanne Velasco — all seniors — are competing in the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Tennis State Championships that start Friday at Alaska Club East in Anchorage. 

This is the first time that Kodiak will be sending six seniors to the state tournament. Kodiak veteran coach Steve Johnston said having six seniors playing at state is bittersweet for the program. 

“It means we will be rebuilding next year,” he said. “I hate to see them go.”

Pyles and Barnett placed fourth in boys’ doubles last season. The duo hopes to improve their placing this weekend. 

“We are just trying to do the best that we can,” Pyles said. “It will be interesting to see if there are any new players coming in.” 

Barnett noted they would have to play their best to move on in the two-day tournament. 

“When we get rolling, we have fun with the game, and our just relaxed,” Barnett said. “Our hits go in more, and we are more focused.” 

Goble and Velasco are playing in girls’ doubles, while Kageyama and Ila Abad are competing in mixed doubles. 

Goble and Velasco placed sixth at state a year ago, while Abad was in girls’ singles last year. Kageyama will be making his first appearance at state.  

“I would like to see the team do really well for the last hooray,” Johnston said. 


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