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Ready for battle

Jesuit, Sunset, Lincoln will all battle for top spots in boys tennis


Depth will be the key in the 2013 Metro League boys tennis race.

And the Metro League’s best teams are as deep as the ocean.by: MILES VANCE - WHACK - Jesuit senior Connor Leahy should be one of the Metro League's best in singles play this year after winning a Class 6A state title in doubles in 2012.

Last year, the Metro’s top three teams — Jesuit, Sunset and Lincoln — finished first, second and fifth at state, and it’s entirely likely that they might be just as good again this year.

“Obviously, depth is the key,” said Aloha coach Kurt Lindner. “Jesuit, Lincoln and Sunset are the three deepest teams in the state, and the deepest team wins.”

“Jesuit and Sunset are strong. They both return talented teams,” said Westview coach Gabor Muskat. And “Lincoln is also a good team with a lot of talent.”

Southridge coach Mike Horton characterized the Metro race this way: “Lincoln has the returning state champion, Goutham Sundaram. Jesuit has half the state champion doubles team in Connor Leahy. Sunset has the returning state doubles runners-up in Brian McKittrick and Ian Paik, and Westview has the returning state consolation champion in Avi Vemuri,” Horton said. “That tells you just how tough this league is.”

None of that was lost on Jesuit coach Jeff Wood, whose team enters the spring season carrying an eight-year league winning streak and a five-year state tournament winning streak.

“Lincoln will be tough as always. They are led by a great number one player and they are well coached,” Wood said. “We already played Sunset and we had a very close match with them so we already know how tough they are. I think Westview will be a strong team as well, and I am sure the rest of the Metro teams have also worked hard to improve.”

To sum it all up, no one said it better than Lindner.

“The Metro League is killer,” he said.

Following are previews of the Beaverton area’s six Metro League boys tennis teams.

ALOHA

ALOHA — Aloha’s boys, like just about everybody else in the Metro League, know that it will be tough sledding against Jesuit, Lincoln and Sunset this year.

But the Warriors are ready to compete with everybody else and think they may just hold their own.

“I’ve got a really good group of kids as far as heart and maturity and desire,” said Aloha coach Kurt Lindner, whose team struggled through a 0-12 2012 Metro campaign. “We’re just not as experienced as some of those other teams. We’ll have to work for every point we get this year.”

That said, there is some experience on hand, with junior Austin Nguyen on hand for his third year at No. 1 singles, sophomore Nathan Ott back at No. 3 singles, and additional experience in doubles players Justin Hua (a junior), Wade Sawyer (a senior) and Tyrell Stone (a senior).

Joining Nguyen and Ott in the singles lineup will be sophomore Bogdan Cosma at No. 2 and freshman Even Klein at No. 4. The doubles lineup will likely include Hua and Sawyer at No. 1, junior Chad Jaymalin and junior Aki Nonoshita at second doubles, senior Brenden Whiteley and junior Andy Amezcua at No. 3, and Stone and freshman Tin Le at fourth doubles.

“We’ll struggle against the deep teams this year, but we should have an OK chance against the rest,” Lindner added.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — The Beaverton boys tennis team doesn’t have the depth of the Metro League’s giants in 2013.

But the Beavers do have some talent, they do have some competitors, and they hope that combination will be enough to create some “W’s” in 2013.

“I only have two year-round players ... so I anticipate struggling against the schools with more experienced players,” said Beaverton coach Matt Hottmann. “I have four freshman who are relatively new to the game ... but I have some competitors who will steal a few matches here and there.”

This year’s Beaver crew will be led by junior Kofi Asare-Konadu at No. 1 singles, followed by freshman Tienhung Vu at second singles, and seniors Xavier Rosevear and Grant Bettendorf at Nos. 3-4.

“Kofi has been working hard at crafting points and the art of tennis. He has great strokes and can hit all the shots, it’s just a matter of choosing the right one at the right moment,” Hottmann said, adding that Rosevear “has only played for a few years, but he competes so well and battles that he finds ways to win.”

Beaverton’s doubles lineup is much less settled at this point, but will include the twosomes of seniors Mitch Reames and Ryan Sweet, and seniors Johnny Tao and Michael Chhing at first and second doubles. After those teams, it will likely be sophomore Bryce Colwell and senior Alex Liggins, and freshmen Justin Ide and Kyle Durbin at Nos. 3-4, though both freshman Noble Smith and senior Jordan Whitney are also expected to see significant court time.

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — There’s no two ways about it — Jesuit is the toughest team in the toughest league in the state.

And despite the toughness of the Metro League — Sunset was second at state last year and Lincoln fifth — the Crusaders enter 2013 in the midst of an 83-match league winning streak that dates back to 2004, and also carrying a five-year winning streak at the state tournament.

Jesuit looks well-heeled to add even more to its trophy case in 2013.

“I hope we will contend for the Metro title, but I know that the Metro is the toughest league in the state,” said Jesuit coach Jeff Wood. “A big key to our success will be to make sure everyone is committed to the team and to stay healthy so that we can compete day in and day out.”

That said, the Crusaders bring back just one player who competed in last year’s state tournament, senior No. 1 singles player Connor Leahy, a two-time state doubles champion and a player who competed at No. 1 singles about half the time in 2012. Joining him in the singles lineup will be freshman Patrick Quinn, junior Nathan Lortz, sophomore Joseph Chen and junior Alejandro Centurion.

Wood said he expects Leahy and Lortz to take roles as team leaders, and will also get strong play from freshmen Andrew Newell, Quinn and Tommy Mulflur. Also due for prominent roles will be senior doubles players Reilly Hazard, Ananth Mohan, Backus Peel, sophomore Mitchell Law, junior Mitchell Morse and sophomore Colton Squire.

“The Metro is loaded with top players so getting to state will be very tough for all of us,” Wood said. “Our players will need to discover their roles and to play that role to the best of their abilities.”

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — This year’s Southridge team knows it has some strengths.

Junior Andrew Nakajima is back for his third year at No. 1 singles after reaching the Metro League quarterfinals in 2012. Also back are senior Nate Gangelhoff at fourth singles, and doubles players including senior Ashwin Swaminathan, senior Hunter Giles, junior Omeed Habibelahian, and sophomores Eric Seo, Brandon Irving and Brandon Kirlin.

“Our key to success in this conference is winning doubles matches. Finding two players that move together and understand court position is the challenge,” said Southridge coach Mike Horton. “Knowing what to do and when to do it, the importance of getting your first serve in, and returning consistently. If you take care of that, then everything else will take care of itself.”

Joining Nakajima in the singles lineup will be freshmen Joaquin Sabarots and Sachin Sakthievel at Nos. 2-3, and Gangelhoff and Swaminathan at fourth singles.

“Southridge looks solid for singles. We have two freshmen (Sabarots and Sakthievel) who will fill the No. 2 and No. 3 spots,” Horton said. “Andrew Nakajima will remain at the top of the ladder. He is stronger and quicker than last year.”

In doubles play, the Skyhawks will look to Swaminathan and Giles at first doubles, Habibelahian, Seo and Irving at No. 2, Seo, Irving and junior Sean Lee at third doubles, and Eddie Kim, Naveed Habibelahian, Lucio Lucas and Kirlin at No. 4.

“Gangelhoff, and Giles are the Hawks’ senior leaders,” Horton said. “Ashwin and Hunter have been with the program since their freshman year and have played both singles and doubles this year.”

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — Sunset pushed Jesuit every step of the way last year.

The Apollos pushed the Crusaders in the regular season before eventually settling for second place with a 10-2 record.

They pushed Jesuit again at district, finishing second there by just six points. And Sunset pushed Jesuit yet again at state — placing second by just two points to the five-time defending state champion Crusaders.

Now, despite graduating a couple of their senior team leaders last spring, the Apollos are back and ready to roll again.

The Crusaders “are still the team to beat,” said Sunset coach Lad Salness. “I think it should be us and Lincoln fighting it out for second place.”

This year’s team will be led by seniors Brian McKittrick and Ian Paik — the state doubles runners-up in 2012 — at the top of the singles ladder, but there’s plenty more talent up top, too. Adding depth in singles will be sophomore Jared Lin, junior Jonathon Suh (a transfer from Westview) and sophomore Ryan Chin (a district and state doubles semifinalist from 2012).

“For the first time in a long time we have some depth in singles and a lot of ways we can go,” Salness said. “McKittrick has been playing really well, Lin is quite talented as a sophomore, and Suh is a very talented kid.”

Chin and Suh will also likely see some time in doubles with junior Rahul Bilakanti. Also ready to go in doubles for the Apollos are junior Matt Means, senior Garrett Smith, freshman Aaron Didner, senior Charles Lee, junior Vedant Raol, junior Victor Lin, sophomore Nick Lam, senior Utkarsh Khetan, senior Alex Song and senior Jinho Kim.

by: MILES VANCE - HE'S READY - Westview sophomore Avi Vemuri won the singles consolation title at state last year and should be even better in 2013.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview was right on the edge of the big-time last year.

The Wildcats finished 6-6 in the tough-as-nails Metro League, it losses coming only to the league’s top three finishers — eventual state champion Jesuit, state runner-up Sunset and fifth-place state finisher Lincoln.

Now, Westview would like to do even better, compete even harder and climb just a little higher in 2013.

I think we’ll be “in the hunt for one of the top three spots,” said Westview coach Gabor Muskat. “We were fourth last year (and we) would like to do better” this year.

There’s good reason to believe it’s possible, thanks to the return of talented sophomore Avi Vemuri — a district semifinalist and the state consolation champ — at the top of the singles ladder.

“Avi Vemuri is our strongest singles player,” Muskat said. I “expect him to qualify for state again this year and do well.”

He’s got plenty of help, too, thanks to a bunch of other experienced returners including senior Nikita Ivanov, junior Lamson Vu, senior Shishir Madari and senior Kevin Wang. Ivanov reached the district quarterfinals in doubles last year, while sophomore Jack Peplinski reached the doubles consolation championship at district.

That group “will make an impact at singles and doubles in league,” Muskat said. We have “good depth in all positions and lots of seniors who have experience this year.”

Ready for doubles time this year are junior James Preston, senior Brian Park, senior Arjun Kandaswamy, junior Rushil Patel, junior Adarsh Bhatt, senior Adarsh Patra, senior Duncan Zhang, senior Ankit Gupta and junior Wrik Sinha.




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