The adjustment to high school tennis is giving Joel Kincaid and Charlie Cutler a little trouble, but not enough to make them think their school won't win the boys team title at the state tournament in May.
Kincaid and Cutler, both freshmen at Lincoln High School, are two of the top singles players in the U.S. Tennis Association Northwest rankings and are both contenders to win the Portland Interscholastic League title.
With Lincoln also fielding the runner-up Ñ David Boyer Ñ from last year's PIL singles championship match, Kincaid and Cutler figure the Cardinals are a strong contender to claim their first state title since 1988.
'We hope to win state this year,' Kincaid says. 'We have a strong enough team, so we should.'
Kincaid is ranked third in the Pacific Northwest Region, which includes British Columbia, at 16 and under and is 17th at 18 and under.
Cutler is No. 5 in 16s and No. 25 in 18s.
Kincaid, who is 5-foot-8, and Cutler, who is 5-3, both began playing at a young age. Kincaid picked up a racquet as early as 4 and was playing tournaments at age 7. Cutler was hitting with his family at age 2.
'As soon as I could walk and carry a racquet I was playing,' Cutler says. 'I've been playing against older competition for most of my life.'
Age-group tournaments have helped hone the games of both players.
'They're very consistent,' Lincoln coach Geoff Pohl says. 'They both have strong ground strokes, good serves and know the game. That's why they're playing first and second singles.'
Both freshmen, who practice at Portland tennis academies (Kincaid hits at the Aaron Gross Academy, while Cutler hits at the Dougal Williams Academy), say part of their adjustment to high school tennis involves wearing a uniform.
'It's different playing for your school,' Kincaid says. 'There's more people at your matches and more responsibility to your team.'
'There's more pressure,' Cutler says. 'It's like playing in USTA events, but it's just different.'
So far, both are handling the adjustment well. Cutler hasn't lost at No. 2, while Kincaid has lost just twice: to Jesuit senior Jim Strauch, 7-5, 7-5, and in a three-set match to Wilson junior Eric Pickard on Thursday.
MORE TENNIS: Wilson sophomore Momei Qu won two of three matches during a strenuous series of early-season play last week.
Qu, a semifinalist in the state tournament last year, won three-set matches over Grant freshman Julia Strong and South Eugene senior Petril Chapman, but she lost to Reynolds junior Emily Kirchem 6-2, 6-2. Qu beat Kirchem in the state tournament quarterfinals last year.
Qu, the defending PIL champion, will get a stern test in Cleveland senior Cristin Sammis when Wilson and Cleveland meet April 18.
Wilson won three of four matches last week, including a victory over Lincoln, the first time the Trojans have beaten the Cardinals in 11 years.
TRACK AND FIELD: Grant and Lincoln posted a number of solid marks during their dual meet Friday.
Grant's T. Harris ran 10.9 seconds in the 100, 22.3 in the 200 and closed out the 4x100 relay team in 43.2.
Grant's Laura Westwood, a two-time state champion in the 800, ran 2:20.6 in that event, with freshman teammate Annaliese Chapa finishing alongside. Liz Wild and Christine Soma ran 5:04.1 to win the 1,500.
Bianca McNair of Lincoln won the girls 400 in 1:00.3.
The feature event of the day was the boys 800, where Lincoln's Michael McGrath outdueled Grant's Joaquin Chapa by a half-second, finishing in 1:55.6. That time usually gets someone on the podium at the state meet.
BASEBALL: Franklin baseball coach Dom Giancola has been resting his ace, Mike Aguilar, as much as possible during the early part of the season in hopes of having a stronger pitcher in the stretch run and playoffs.
Aguilar was the Portland Interscholastic League's most valuable player last season when Franklin won its first league title in nearly 60 years before losing in the first round of the state playoffs. This spring he has only started one game, beating Milwaukie 10-0.
'He looks real good,' Giancola said. 'We're just trying to use him effectively so he's fresher in May.'
Franklin won its league opener 16-1 over Benson last week. Aguilar had a homer, triple and single in the game.
The Quakers feature 13 seniors and one junior, No. 2 starting pitcher Jeff Pry.
GOLF: Cleveland has vaulted back into the running for a state tournament berth in boys golf and will play key matches with Lincoln and Wilson this week heading into the mid-district tournament at Red Tail on Friday.
Cleveland, which faced PIL title contender Grant on Monday, features seniors Tyler Rennie and Andrew Olson, junior Nick Blatner and sophomores Mark Howe and Nick Rogers. The Warriors shot under 160 in their opening two matches.
Cleveland last won the league title in 1983.
The girls middistrict tournament is set for Heron Lakes on Friday.