the way for Viking tennis
When Coco Bator was 6 years old during a family reunion in Arizona more than a decade ago, she noticed a bunch of family members just hitting the tennis ball around. She decided to pick up a racket and just try hitting a couple.
And she hasn’t been able to put it down since.
“I just kind of got out there on the court at the resort, and loved it,” said Bator, now a senior in high school. “And I took lessons when I got back home and have been playing year round ever since.”
Bator, who attends the International Community School (ICS) in Kirkland but plays tennis for Inglemoor, has been one of 4A Kingco’s top girls tennis players this year with undefeated league singles and doubles records.
Bator is taking the near identical path as her older brother, Brad, who graduated from Inglemoor in 2006 and is playing his red-shirt freshman season at the University of Washington. Brad had started playing in Arizona a few years earlier, and also fell in love with it.
“It’s kind of funny because my parents don’t play, so my brother and I picked it up kind of out of the blue,” the younger Bator said. “And it turned into this huge thing. We play it all the time, and it’s kind of exciting because most people come form a tennis family, and we don’t.”
Growing up, Bator said she and her brother had the typical sibling rivalry, but they have become close friends and tennis buddies.
“I kind of had a hitting partner through the years and we played at the same club and with the same pros,” Bator said. “We used to have a sibling rivalry out there, but now that we’re older, he’s kind of my coach and my mentor because he is in college and playing tennis, and that’s where I see him, too. It is cool having that brother to look up to.”
Now it is the rest of Kingco looking up at her. Bator has dominated this year, and hopes to continue that trend en route to a state-tournament appearance. As a sophomore, she took third in singles and reached the semifinals in doubles in the Kingco tournament.
“I would like to do well in districts and Kingco, and the main goal is try to get to state,” Bator said. “But if I don’t make it, that’s totally fine. I’m having a great season so far. So we’ll just see where it takes me.”
Many year-round players choose not to play at high school because the competition is considered a step down from the elite tournaments. Bator could certainly have gone that direction, particularly because she attends ICS, which doesn’t offer sports. But while Bator loves the individual side of tennis, she said she has a blast playing for Inglemoor, where she would go if she didn’t go to ICS.
“I know a lot of people focus on tournaments, but for me, I think it’s really important since I don’t go to this school,” Bator said of Inglemoor. “I wanted to meet new people, and we don’t have much school spirit at my school. We don’t have sports. So I really wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to come out here and be a part of a team. That’s what was most important to me. I love the teammates. I love the girls.”
She said the overall talent of the team and the wins and losses aren’t a major factor, but it does help that Inglemoor has started the season red hot. Inglemoor, which won six straight 4A Kingco championships before falling short last year, beat reigning undefeated 4A Kingco champion Redmond, 5-4, earlier this year.
And Bator was there, cheering on her teammates as a part of a team.
“It’s great because I love having the spirit. You always have someone cheering you on whether you are winning or losing, and you get to support others, as well,” Bator said. “It’s really fun to meet people from another school who have a lot of spirit and kind of being recognized in the community for playing sports, which I’m not used to, really. And the whole team gets it (praise). It’s not just me. I love the team aspect.”
• See page 13 for Inglemoor, Bothell at a glance.