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Timberwolves take aim at another title

Girls tennis: Tualatin, looking to win its eighth straight league crown, gets a win against Tigard
by: DAN BROOD, SUPER SHOT — Tualatin senior Marty Pellicano hits a forehand shot during play at Tuesday’s Pacific Conference opener held at Tualatin High School.

TUALATIN - High hopes.

A bunch of top-notch returning players.

And a lot of fun.

The Tualatin High School girls tennis team just might have it all.

'We're looking to have a big year,' Tualatin senior Leah Hoffee said during the Timberwolves' Pacific Conference opening dual match with Tigard.

'It's always a big year here,' fellow Tualatin senior Marty Pellicano added.

'Yeah, we want to keep the tradition going,' Hoffee said.

That tradition at Tualatin is a championship tradition. The Timberwolves have won seven straight league championships. And, with a loaded line-up this year, they look to have a strong chance to make it eight league titles in a row.

'Tualatin is very good. It's always fun to play them,' Tigard senior Kelsey Wahl said.

Wahl, who plays at No. 1 singles for the Tigers, is one of just a few returning varsity players on the young Tigard squad. Still, Wahl says, the team is showing promise.

'We're looking all right,' she said. 'We're doing better than I thought we would. We haven't won any team matches yet, but we're getting close.'

The young Tigard team battled the talented Wolves tough, but they fell 9-0 in the match played under sunny skies Tuesday at Tualatin High School. The Tualatin line-up, on Tuesday, included many of the players from last year's Timberwolf squad placed third in the team standings at the Class 6A state tournament.

'We'll see if we can do it again,' Hoffee said.

Hoffee and Pellicano, who have met in the district tournament singles championship finals in each of the past two seasons, are rotating at the No. 1 singles spot for the Wolves this season.

'We're just having some fun with it,' Pellicano said. 'I'm just really enjoying things this year.'

Sophomore Kathleen Shangraw will usually be playing at No. 3 singles for Tualatin this year. Sophomore Molly Fisher will be at No. 4 singles and junior Erica Bocchi will be at No. 5 singles. Sophomore Kelly Grandon will also see action in singles play.

The Tualatin doubles line-up will be led by senior Maddie Bachhuber and junior Anna Hildebran, who will play at No. 1 doubles.

Last year, Bachhuber and Hildebran placed second at the league's district tournament and went on to defeat the No. 3-seeded team of Natalie Ruffe and Sam Ruffe of South Medford on their way to reaching the quarterfinal round at the Class 6A state tournament.

Juniors Lauren Butz and Erika Welsh will be at No. 2 doubles most of the time for the Wolves. The team of sophomores Becca Koessler and Maggie Bluhm will be at No. 3 doubles and the combination of sophomores Lauren Janes and Amanda Meyer will be at No. 4 doubles.

For the Tigers, junior Kelly Belair will likely be at No. 2 singles. Junior Sarah Goodman will be at No. 3 singles, sophomore Kristin Hortsch at No. 4 singles and junior Haley Carlsson at No. 5 singles.

Juniors Victoria Li and Christine Lam make up the Tigers' No. 1 doubles team. Senior Vickie Uong and junior Megan Hannon will be at No. 2 doubles. Sophomores Nicole Mickanen and Rachel Bates will be at No. 3 doubles and juniors Maddie Meadows and Emily McConnell will be at No. 4 doubles.

Overall, the Tigard girls tennis program has grown from 24 girls last year to 34 this year.

In the No. 1 singles match on Tuesday, Hoffee scored a 6-0, 6-1 win over Wahl.

'That was fun. She's a lot of fun to hit with,' Wahl said. 'The score might not have been close, but I thought I played well. Playing in matches like these will definitely help me improve.'

Wahl, in her senior season, is looking to earn her first trip to the state tournament.

'I'm hoping this is the year,' she said. 'I just need to play a lot more.'

At No. 2 singles, Hoffee posted a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Belair.

Shangraw scored a 6-3, 6-1 win over Goodman at No. 3 singles. At No. 4 singles, Fisher bested Hortsch by a 6-2, 6-1 score.

Bachhuber and Hildebran got their league season off to a winning start as they scored a 6-0, 6-1 win over Li and Lam in No. 1 doubles play.

At No. 2 doubles, Butz and Welsh scored a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Uong and Megan Hannon. Koessler and Bluhm posted a 6-0, 6-2 win over Mickanen and Carlsson at No. 3 doubles.

At No. 4 doubles, Janes and Meyer scored a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Meadows and McConnell.

Prior to the win over Tigard, the Timberwolves scored a 6-2 win over Sunset in a non-league match played Monday at Tualatin High School.

Hoffee, Shangraw and Bocchi all had singles wins at that match. In doubles play, the Wolves got victories from Butz and Welsh, Bluhm and Koessler and from the team of Janes and Meyer.

The Tigers and Timberwolves are both slated to return to action today (Thursday).

Tigard hosts McMinnville and Tualatin plays at Canby in 4 p.m. matches. On Monday, Tigard is home to face Canby and Tualatin plays at Forest Grove.