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Lady Lions to build on 07 success

by: Vern Uyetake, Danika Tonning returns a shot during her win over Lakeridge on Tuesday. Tonning won the consolation bracket at state last year and returns as West Linn’s No. 1 singles player this season.

Coming off one of the most successful seasons in the program's history, the West Linn girls tennis team is looking to continue its success with another strong squad that hopes to hold its own against a Lake Oswego juggernaut.

The Lions finished fifth in state last season, sending a singles player and two doubles teams to state.

One of those doubles teams has graduated but the other three girls return, anchoring one of the more talented teams in the state.

Junior Danika Tonning will handle the No. 1 singles duties for the Lions. She won the consolation bracket at the state tournament last year and has only improved in the off-season.

'She's really focused this year and looks ready to go,' coach Aaron Downs said.

At second singles is a strong freshman, Amanda Wagner with seniors Danielle Meyer and Courtney Moore battling it out for third and fourth singles.

'They're both playing well and will probably beat each other at different times this year,' Downs said.

At doubles, Alex Smith and Kellie Kawasaki anchor the Lions. That pairing made it to state last year and won a pair of matches to advance to the quarterfinals.

'They're a lot of fun together and provide some great leadership on our team,' Downs said.

At second doubles is the team of Taylor Coronel and Catherine Broadhurst, moving up one spot from last year.

Third doubles is an intriguing freshman team of Samantha Ing and Natalie Smith. Each of those girls' older sisters also had success in the Lions' program.

'They're going to push some people this year and I think they pull of some surprises,' Downs said.

At fourth doubles is Katherine Millage and Lisa Kirkemo with Ali Vogt, Katelyn Beck, Haley Graham and Kellie Trafton also looking to move up the ladder.

This year West Linn saw one of its biggest turn outs in school history and needed to field a second JV team, which bodes well for the future of the program.

In league this year, the Lions should have a strong shot at finishing in second but Lake Oswego, which took second last year as a team, returns virtually its entire team and could make a run at a state title this year if it gets enough girls through to the tournament.

'Lake Oswego is loaded from top to bottom and the rest of the league has some very good players,' Downs said.

But Downs hopes to compete hard against the Lakers and expects to get some girls through to state again.

In the team's first league match of the year, the Lions ground out a solid 7-1 victory over Lakeridge.

The Lions swept the doubles bracket without losing a set. Coronel and Broadhurst won 6-4, 7-5 in the closest doubles match of the afternoon.

In singles, Tonning won 6-0, 6-0 and West Linn's only loss was at second singles. However, against a tough opponent, Wagner was able to steal a set as the Lions got off to a stellar start heading into Spring Break.