13 Sports, 19 Teams, 1 Goal


The 1996 State Champion Seattle Prep Tennis Team. 1996 was perhaps the best single year in Seattle Prep sports history.

Ben Oswald, Staff Writer

One of the foremost programs that attracts students to Seattle Prep is the exceptional athletic program. Home to 19 different teams throughout 3 different seasons, Prep holds a prominent history of success across all sports.

With a total of 19 Prep athletic teams, 13 have clinched State championship victories. One noteworthy story is about the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams who secured State championship titles back-to-back in 1996 and 1997. In the 90s, tennis was co-ed until the State tournament at the end of the season. All season matches as well as the Metro and District level tournaments were co-ed competitions. Once the team reached the State level, the boys’ and girls’ were scored separately; additionally, there were no mixed doubles at the State level.

Not only did the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams of 1996 and 1997 dominate their opponents, but their team also included very notable coaches and players. Mark Frisby, the coach, is still a passionate coach of the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams today. Mrs. Lovejoy, one of Prep’s assistant librarians, and Mr. Elsner, the current head of the girls’ basketball program at Prep, were avid players on the team throughout their time at Prep. Mark Frisby was described by Mrs. Lovejoy, “Mark Frisby is the best coach I’ve ever had. He made such astute observations and would come on the court between sets to tell us one thing to focus on – it would make all the difference in the outcome of a match.” Additionally, Mr. Elsner recounted his time on the team, “The amazing thing about the 1996 and 1997 tennis teams at Prep was that it was a mix of immense talent and camaraderie. While Prep had players committed to play tennis at places like University of Washington, Nebraska, St. Mary’s, Pomona and Northwestern, every member of the team was valued and recognized for helping the Panthers bring home back-to-back State titles.”

Despite the amazing teachers who were on the team, there was also a plethora of players who went on to play Division 1 tennis. Jeff Eicher, ‘97, was the singles State champ in ’94, ’95, ’96, and ’97, freshman through senior year! He went on to further his love for the game at the University of Washington and is now a tennis professional in the Seattle area.

Another remarkable player was Ndali Ijomah, ‘97, who transferred to Prep for her junior and senior year. “She came in 2nd in singles at State both of those years, and was integral to the Metro, District and Girls’ State championships in both ’96 and ’97,” recalls Mrs. Lovejoy. She went on to play at the University of Nebraska. On top of that, many players went on to play at Santa Clara University, the University of Portland, St. Mary’s University, Pomona College, and Northwestern University. “Lakeside was definitely the big Metro rival in those days,” states Mrs. Lovejoy. Many student athletes would agree Lakeside High School remains one of Prep’s biggest rivals across a variety of sports. The tennis team of 1996 and 1997 held a prominent place in all of Prep’s athletic achievements.

Seattle Prep has been declared the State champions of an abundance of different sports 34 times, the tennis team in the 90s was just one example of this. Prep would not be home to such victorious athletic teams if it were not for the athletic directors, Mr. Reed, and all those before him. Their challenging work behind the scenes allows Prep to compete at a high Metro level and show other schools our dominance across all sports. While athletics is just one thing that makes Seattle Prep what it is, the credit for student athletes will always be exceptional.