36th annual event makes up for low turnout with top-heavy competition over four tourney brackets

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Rick Hammerquest, left, and Tom Lonergan won the Open Doubles championship at this years Woodburn Open tennis tournament. Hammerquest, of Salem, went on to win the Open Singles tournament bracket as well.The 36th annual Woodburn Open Tennis Tournament may have lacked the depth of last year’s field of players, but it made up for it in talent at the top end of the tournament brackets.

“Overall numbers, this was the smallest it’s ever been,” said tournament organizer Tom Lonergan, who also coaches the Woodburn High School boys tennis team. “Competition in the brackets was good, but we just did not have a lot of brackets.”

Tournament play was limited to four brackets of competition this year: Open Singles, Open Doubles, 4.0/3.5 Singles and 4.0/3.5 Doubles.

Much of the tournament was divided by a generational gap. The event featured local tennis players at the high school level from Woodburn, North Marion and Wilsonville. The rest of the field was dominated by Lonergan and various colleagues from the Willamette Valley who frequent local USTA tournaments in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

“It was good that some of my friends from Salem came — like Jeff Doring and Rick Hammerquest — because that really improved the quality,” said Lonergan. “Those are good players, so we had a good draw.”

Lonergan and Hammerquest combined to win the Open Doubles bracket with a 7-6, 6-0 victory over Jeff Doring and Howard Sorenson. While the tournament play was competitive, it stayed casual and friendly throughout the two-day event. When Gary Summerfield of McMinnville was unavailable to play in the consolation finals of the Open Doubles tournament, Lonergan filled in and played with Walter Ledesma to defeat Austin and Ethan Berkey of North Marion High School.

It was the second time Lonergan beat the Berkeys on Saturday after he and Hammerquest beat them in the semi-finals earlier in the day. Austin, an incoming senior at NMHS, and Ethan, soon to be a freshman, each qualified for the OSAA 4A State Tournament this past spring as members of the Husky boys tennis team. Austin had previously played under Lonergan after spending his first two years of high school at Woodburn.

In 3.5/4.0 singles, Ethan beat Beto Salmeron of Woodburn High School 6-1, 6-2. Salmeron recently completed his first season of play for Bulldogs, and Lonergan was impressed by the junior’s tournament play.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion High School sophomore Ethan Berkey won the 3.5/4.0 Singles champion“Beto played well, he did a good job,” said Lonergan. “Ethan’s definitely a better player right now, but it was a good experience for (Beto).”

In the consolation finals, Robert Sanchez beat Sam Miller 6-2, 6-4. Both Sanchez and Miller played for the Bulldogs this past spring.

Salmeron and Marco Soria, who were doubles teammates for the Bulldogs this past spring, beat Sam Gomez of Wilsonville and Grant Barrell of North Marion in the 3.5/4.0 doubles finals by a score of 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-3.

Rounding out the results was Hammerquest’s victory over Tony Ou in the Open Singles finals by a score of 5-7, 7-5, 6-0.

The tournament field may have been low due to a one-year downturn in play, but Lonergan hopes to see more young players emerge and play to make up for declining numbers on the older end of the spectrum.

“My generation is not playing tennis like it did 10-15 years ago,” said Lonergan. “That’s the big difference right there. People that are my age are not playing tournaments, so that’s why we’re down.”

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