by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit's Nathan Lortz and Michael Quinn beat Sunsets Jared Lin and Ryan Chin 6-3, 6-4 in the 6A doubles state championship match on Saturday.

Deep down, despite their age disparity and initial unfamiliarity with one another’s style of play, Jesuit’s Michael Quinn and Nathan Lortz had a notion they could be a really good, contending doubles team.

But 6A state champions?

It’s safe to say neither Quinn nor Lortz could’ve predicted a state crown when the two were put together by Jeff Wood in mid-April at the Crusaders’ home invitational.

Yet, the combo kept practicing and working in cohesion. The chemistry was there and so were the skills, with Quinn’s quickness being a boon at the net and the lumber jack-sized Lortz lacing earsplitting serves from the backline.

Soon, the unlikeliest combination of fledging freshman and well versed senior started seeing flooring results. A couple of dual meet wins built confidence. Then came the wild run through the Metro district tournament as the unranked team nobody knew peaked with a district championship title over Sunset’s Jared Lin and Ryan Chin to advance to the state tournament.

Their Cinderella run was supposed to end at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center — the site of the 6A boys’ tennis tournament — on Saturday. The clock was about to strike midnight on Quinn and Lortz. The glass slipper would be too small.

Turns out the slipper still fit.

Facing off against Lin and Chin again in the state doubles final — this time as the No. 1 seed — Lortz and Quinn completed their astounding run together with a 6-3, 6-4 win to take the state title.

The team that started at the bottom, is now on top of the 6A tennis world.

“Even though (Lortz) is a senior and I’m a freshman, we still treated each other as equals,” said Quinn. “He had the big serve, I had the good net flick, but we improved our games and worked together so much. We played as a team the whole year.”

Quinn said there was a little bit of pressure on himself and Lortz after making big waves on the 6A tennis scene by shocking Chin and Lin at the Metro District Championship last week. The hunters were now the hunted as each state doubles team went at Quinn and Lortz with full appreciation and competitive vigor. The Crusader combo wasn’t the underdog anymore by any means, yet Quinn said their overall demeanor and approach to success didn’t modify.

“We kept it simple, we didn’t overthink,” said Quinn. “Overthinking isn’t the greatest because you’re not really playing.”

Nerves before a match are always good, Quinn noted, because that means you care about the outcome. But, once the ball was tossed and served, the freshman and senior chilled and let the game come to them.

“We just played match-for-match, point-for-point and just had fun out there,” said Quinn. “We didn’t really care how people were noticing us. We played pretty relaxed like we did at districts. We knew upsets could happen. We just played.”

Facing Chin and Lin for the second time in as many weeks, Quinn and Lortz had the blueprint on how to undo the Apollo duo. Granted, Chin was saddled with leg cramps during the district final. Lortz and Quinn were pushed to the brink of elimination twice at the district meet, but fought off the ropes. Though Sunset’s best doubles team was 100 percent on Saturday, Jesuit had little trouble putting away Chin and Lin, breaking the Apollos a trio of times for the first set win. The Crusaders fell behind 2-0 in the second set, but mounted a furious comeback to garner the 6-4 win.

“It was a great match to play in,” said Quinn. “(Chin and Lin) were the second seed, and we respected them a lot. We focused on what we could control like footwork and our attitude. There were a lot of close points and we had a lot of opportunities to win games. We took advantage of those.”

The pair’s whirlwind two-week rise from unknown and unseeded at the district meet to peerless on the state stage still hasn’t set in for Quinn who has three years left to duplicate his stellar rookie year. Lortz will graduate in the next couple weeks, but his freshman teammate was pumped to send his upperclassman teammate on the highest of high notes.

“We both felt really satisfied,” said Quinn. “It was cool for Nathan to end his career on a good note. We knew we were a good team, and we proved it out there. We’re happy that we fought our way through the tournament and won.”

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