The Rainout, The Quackenbush Sisters, and the Burning Ears of Betty Hummer

  • Written by Derek Johnson

The rain came first as a light mist. Then it fell harder. The courts became slick. And when a girl from Lake Washington slipped and fell, the match was ended early.

Girls from both teams gathered up their things and prepared to go home. Among them were the Quackenbush sisters, Rachel and Claire.
The Quackenbushes aren’t used to rain so much—they’re from California. They were raised on the sun-drenched courts of Cali, and not the soggy ones of Woodinville.

They’ve lived here for two years with relatives. But they’ll move back home this summer to where their large family lives.   

tennisWoodinville's Quackenbush sisters. Claire (left) and Rachel (right). (Photo by Derek Johnson)

Since Claire is Woodinville’s best singles player, she’s not slated as a doubles player this year. But given that last Friday was the team’s final non-conference match, Coach Betty Hummer let Claire and Rachel compete as a doubles team.

“Last season was the first time I’ve played tennis a lot competitively,” Claire said. “And I discovered that I have the most fun when I play doubles with Rachel. I really enjoyed it a lot. So I wanted to try it one last time before we return to our normal rankings.”

The girls said that living in Woodinville has made them closer. By their own admission, Rachel has the John McEnroe temper on the court, while Claire is the more laid-back Chris Evert type.

“Rachel is amazing at the net,” Claire said. “So I’m very satisfied when I set her up well and she slams it. And how she channels her frustrations at the net… It’s so much fun to watch!”

Both girls said they became better doubles partners by improving communication and fitting their styles together.

As the interview was winding down, Coach Betty Hummer walked slowly behind the girls. Her eyes were trained on the ground, seemingly deep in concentration. A moment later, she walked by again going the other direction. This prompted the reporter to ask the girls about their coach.

“The thing I enjoy most is her sense of humor,” Claire said. “She’s very intense. She was the JV coach last year, so I wasn’t around her as much. I was intimidated by her last year, until I got her sense of humor.”

“We love Coach Betty, it has been QUITE an experience,” Rachel said, prompting Claire to giggle. “My favorite thing is that she sticks up for her players no matter what. She always has your back and is always looking out for you… Her sense of humor is great, and she’s always positive. Even if we’re getting destroyed, she will say KEEP GOING! YOU’RE DOING GREAT! I really admire her.”

At this moment, Hummer again walked right behind the girls, seemingly deep in thought. The Quackenbush sisters turned toward her in unison.  

“Have you been listening to this WHOLE thing?” demanded Rachel.

Coach Hummer looked surprised.

“No! I’ve been cleaning. I haven’t been listening. For real!”

The giggling of the girls now morphed into riotous peals of laughter. 

“Hey!“ Hummer shouted. “I trust my girls!

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