CHUBBUCK – The Highland mixed doubles pair’s record was an eye-catching, lustrous and nearly immaculate 31-1.
It is what Rams senior Carter Fellows said he will remember most about his latest successful mixed doubles campaign. Not finishing in second place at the 5A state tournament and not winning a district championship.
The record spoke to the utter consistency of Fellows and senior partner Chloe Stoddard, who did not lose a set as a duo until the state title match.
“They were nearly perfect,” Rams coach Ron Osborn said. “Those two did their thing and put in all the hours. The success that they had – every bit of it they earned.”
Laying out their credentials before this season, success seemed inevitable for the 2019 Journal All-Area Tennis Doubles Pair of the Year. They were both two-time district champions, with Stoddard collecting her medals in girls singles and Carter Fellows compiling his in mixed doubles.
For Fellows, it starts with his athleticism. He ended his high school football career as a second-team All-Idaho defensive back, where it also pays to backpedal and move side to side fluidly.
“Carter’s athleticism sets him apart from anybody I’ve ever coached. He’s amazing,” Osborn said. “Carter’s just got these intangibles that you can’t teach, you can’t coach. You either have them or you don’t, and Carter has them.”
Osborn said Stoddard brought “a whole lot of determination.”
“That girl is driven,” Osborn said. “The girl is a winner. If you look at her season records and career totals, it’s incredibly impressive how many tennis matches this girl wins. … I just knew she wasn’t going to be denied a state medal this year.”
As inevitable as their success was, so was their pairing.
Stoddard considered it an eventual possibility two years ago, when her sister Cassie Stoddard was hitting her stride in seventh grade and showed she would take Highland’s No. 1 singles spot as a freshman.
Cassie also finished with a 31-1 record this season, so all three sides benefited, including Fellows. After two consecutive third-place finishes at state with two different partners, he had what Osborn said was Fellows’ “most well-established teammate.”
On their opening-day of matches this season in March, the mixed doubles pair won every game and their record’s win column began its uphill climb. Stoddard and Fellows were 2-0 after that day’s wins against Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge.
Traditionally in doubles, partners take different halves of the court, but Highland’s duo took different depths with Stoddard on the baseline and Fellows at the net to suit their strengths.
“It opened opportunities with her groundstrokes and hitting shots where they need to be hit and me having the angles to go get the ball,” Fellows said.
Chloe said, “He always looks for opportunities to close into the net. And once he’s there, it’s point over.”
Their dominance did not stop in the regular season nor districts. They did not lose more than two games in a set in their first three state matches, except a 7-5 first-set win in the semifinals.
Then, the pair hit a wall in the title match against Timberline’s John Felin & Victoria Chiou, who clinched a championship with a 6-1, 6-2 win.
“We definitely could’ve beaten them, but everything would to have gone our way,” Osborn said. “During the match, they had an answer for everything that we threw out there.”
Chloe took a day until she got over the defeat, while it took longer for Fellows, who was agitated by people congratulating him for second place on his next school day.
But second place was better than any Highland doubles pair since 2012, plus Chloe finally obtained a coveted state medal.
“It’s a good way to end it with all the hard work and all the sacrifices I had to make for tennis,” Chloe said. “Not trying to sound cocky, but it’s well-deserved.”