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PILs defending singles champs repeat history teaser head: Eyes on the ball Ñ and a doubles first place

The defending champions, each playing against a familiar opponent, both won another singles title at the Portland Interscholastic League boys and girls tennis tournaments.

And after the tourney ended Friday, Grant's Tommy Hicks and Wilson's Momei Qu said they're ready for the state tournament May 22-24 in Beaverton and Portland.

'I'm excited about going back,' says Qu, a junior who lost in the state final last year. 'It's weird how quickly it's come upon us.'

Qu beat Lincoln sophomore Katie Tabb 6-2, 6-0 in the girls final at Portland Tennis Center. The two practice against each other on a weekly basis through lessons at Lewis & Clark College.

Qu's PIL title was her third straight.

Hicks, a sophomore, beat Lincoln sophomore Joel Kincaid 6-3, 6-1 in the boys final. They practice against each other at the University of Portland and are a doubles team during U.S. Tennis Association junior events.

'I feel ready for state,' says Hicks, who lost in the second round of last year's tourney. 'I felt solid and that I played well. Now it's just a matter of the (state tourney) draw and playing as well as I can.'

Lincoln won both team titles. The boys have won 10 in a row, and the girls ended a three-year run by Cleveland.

Grant was second in boys and girls.

Grant sophomore Nick Ruess and freshman Willie Nolan won the boys doubles title. Lincoln sisters Heather Habes, a junior, and Hannah Habes, a sophomore, won the girls double title.

Ruess and Nolan were notable for their enthusiasm on the court, often yelling after key points.

'I think that helped us a lot,' Ruess says. 'It's our first year playing together as a team, and we needed a little something extra.'

Tabb reached the state tournament for the second straight year. Last year, while attending St. Mary's Academy, she lost in the first round and went on to win the consolation title.

In last week's PIL final, she trailed 2-1 with the game score at 15-all. Qu, who hadn't lost a game in the tournament until then, rebounded by winning seven of the next eight points to go up 4-1.

'I think I lost a little focus,' Tabb says. 'It's tough when there are so many people and they're all looking at you.'

Qu's top challenger at the state tourney could be Reynolds senior Emily Kirchem. Kirchem beat Qu the last time the two met, two months ago in a club event.

Hicks will be more of a long shot to win a state title because defending champion Brett Joelson is a senior at Westview and is likely be the top seed.

Kincaid, a state quarterfinalist last year, said he hoped to improve his game enough to compete for the title. Many of the points he lost came at the end of long rallies or on shots he failed to put away.

'I need to get stronger in the midcourt area,' Kincaid says. 'I had a lot of chances to finish points, but I just wasn't forceful enough.'

Lincoln sophomore Charlie Cutler and Wilson senior Eric Pickard also qualified for the state tournament.

Notes: Franklin and Benson entered the week heading for their first-place showdown in PIL softball on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at Delta Park. Each team had just one PIL loss Ñ Benson lost to Grant, while Franklin lost to Benson. Wilson is in third place. Cleveland had a one-game lead on Grant in the race for fourth but has to play Benson on Wednesday. É Central Catholic's 1-0 loss to Centennial on Friday kept the Rams teetering on the edge of missing the state playoffs. They entered the week in fifth place. The top four teams advance.

In baseball, Cleveland's 3-0 victory over Lincoln on Friday had both teams entering this week's games in a tie for third in the PIL. Both still have to play league co-leader Grant. É Central Catholic's 15-3 loss to Barlow on Friday damaged the Rams' Mount Hood Conference title hopes and gave the Bruins a 2-1 edge in the season series. The Rams close their conference schedule on Monday with a game against David Douglas.

The PIL's 10 track teams will be in action on Wednesday. Benson, Franklin and Roosevelt will be at Madison, Grant and Marshall will be at Wilson, and Lincoln and Jefferson will be at Cleveland. District meets are scheduled for next week around the state.

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..