by:  VERN UYETAKE Defending district singles champion Amanda Wagner heads up a girls tennis team that should be as strong as it has been in years.

West Linn's girls tennis team looks very similar to last year's girls tennis team and that might not be a good thing for the rest of the Three Rivers League.

The Lions lost just one senior last year and return the defending district singles champion in Amanda Wagner.

Wagner should be one of the best players in the league again this year and will look to improve on her finish at state.

In doubles, the Lions benefit from the return of Natalie Smith, who missed the season with an ACL injury.

She will play at first doubles along with Emily Erbin.

"I think they could be one of the top teams in the league," coach Ke Ounaphom said.

Doubles should be a huge strength for the Lions this year as the team is extremely deep.

"The chemistry is really good and our challenge matches have been very close," Ounaphom said.

At second doubles is the team of Emily Shea and Macie Colonel with Kaitlin Nordstrom and Caitlin Connolly playing at third doubles.

At No. 4 doubles is the team of Alyssa Heath and Kristin Nesbit.

"Doubles is very solid. I think they'll do very well in league," Ounaphom said.

Rounding out the singles side of the bracket, Eta Santoro returns to play at No. 2 singles.

Nicole Campbell will be the No. 3 singles player and Emmalee Scheid will play at No. 4 singles.

West Linn currently has 16 players on varsity, 15 of them are returning from last year.

With so many returning players, the Lions are the most experienced team in the league but the league may have gotten even stronger from last season.

Lake Oswego and Lakeridge are both solid while Grant and Canby are both wild cards.

"Right now it's tough to tell. With the weather it's been hard to get good training in but we're excited," Ounaphom said.

The Lions have only been able to get in one match so far. Playing without Wagner, the team beat St. Mary's 10-8 in sets.

West Linn won all four doubles matches handily.

The Lions were scheduled to play Grant on Wednesday and are slated to host Lakeridge this Friday.

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