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CCHS tennis teams eye state berths at district tournament

Members of the Crook County High School boys and girls tennis teams are on a mission.
   While three CCHS players earned berths to state last year, this year's squads look to do even better.
   The Intermountain Conference district tennis tournaments open Friday morning and continue on Saturday. The Cowgirls will travel to Pendleton for the action, while the Cowboys will play their event in Hermiston.
   The top four singles players and top four doubles teams in each tournament advance to the state competition, planned for Portland May 17-19.
   For the girls team, doubles seem to be the strength. Returning state competitors sophomore Megan Rodgers and senior Amy Piepenbrink will look to win the IMC. The pair is undefeated so far this year.
   In the 15 years head coach Dave Mascall has been at the helm of of the Crook County tennis program, he has yet to see a duo play as consistent as Piepenbrink and Rodgers.
   "I haven't had a doubles team that's this tough," Mascall said Wednesday night. "There really is no comparison. Megan and Amy are by far the best girl players we've ever had."
   Also in doubles competition will be juniors Rachel and Kristin Wortman, junior Breann Sharp and sophomore Ashley Osborne and juniors Jessica Rau and Cassie Pruett.
   In singles, the Cowgirls will lead with junior Michelle Hook, freshman Shyla Hargrave, junior Juanita Weatherly and sophomore Katie Dutli.
   On the boys side, highly-touted sophomore doubles team of Sam Thomas and Jeff Hancock will look to clinch a state berth.
   "Obviously, we'd like to get some kids to state and I think we have a realistic chance at it," said CCHS assistant coach Roger Berger.
   Also in doubles will be junior Evan Hendrix and freshman Derek Hendrix, sophomore Justin Surber and senior Trampus Peterson, and senior Ryan Dutli and junior Devin Lee.
   On the singles side, senior Matt Easlon will be No. 1 for Crook County, Frasier Edmonds will be No. 2, while sophomores Colin Zook and David Gerke will round out the field.
   As for the teams scores, both CCHS teams look to finish third. Mascall said Bend is expected to have the upper hand in the girls competition, while Mtn. View is the team to beat for the boys.
   While team scoring is important for Crook County, Mascall is looking to qualify as many Prineville netters to state as possible.
   The key to competing well at the district level, Mascall said, is keeping a clear mind.
   "They need to shut everything else out _ forget about school, forget about where they are, forget about problems anywhere else _ and just stay focused. There's a lot to it, they just need to relax."