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Forest Grove tennis splits with Tigard

Tennis - Lady Vikings win a close one against Tigard, but boys stumble in a 5-4 loss

Forest Grove tennis split a pair of close decisions against Tigard last week in Pacific Conference action.

Forest Grove's girls squeaked out a 5-4 victory over the Lady Tigers at home on Wednesday, while the boys dropped a 5-4 decision on the road Friday.

Both matches came down to the wire. Rita Hepler won at No. 5 singles to boost the Forest Grove girls to the team victory, while the boys allowed a 4-2 lead to slip away during doubles play.

'The boys league is very competitive across the board,' said Forest Grove head coach Rich Taylor. 'As I said earlier in the season, [we] should be in contention for the league title and until Tigard we had been playing at that level.'

The Forest Grove boys (4-2, 2-2) built a 4-2 lead with singles wins from Jordan Tanous, Cameron Rutledge and Lucas Oliveira, plus a victory at No. 2 doubles by Tyson Heesacker and Serge Schar. That was when things began to unravel. Tigard won the final three doubles matches, all in three sets, to steal the overall victory.

'I don't want to take anything away from Tigard since they made an extremely difficult comeback against us,' Taylor said. 'It was hard to believe we would lose all four three-set matches, but we just made too many unforced errors.'

The other three-set match was at No. 2 singles where Tigard's Kevin Xiong edged Jordan Miller 6-7 (7), 6-3, 7-6 (2).

Things went better for the Forest Grove girls (4-3, 1-3), who battled to a 4-4 draw on Wednesday before the match was called due to darkness. With only one match remaining, play resumed on Friday and Hepler clipped Jennifer Truong 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-1 to lock up the team victory for Forest Grove.

The Lady Vikings' other wins came from Traci Vanaken and Candice Swanger in singles play, and the doubles tandems of Charlie Ganje and Milaine Dickinson, plus Grace Yinger and Natalie Hymes.

'The girls have only had our complete team one match all year, so it's still wide open to how we will finish the season,' Taylor said. 'Traci Vanaken, Candice Swanger and Rita Hepler are beginning to pick up their level of play to what's necessary in our league and several others are on the borderline of making their games successful. The second half of the season starts Thursday and hopefully they will be ready to meet the challenge they face.'

Both teams will face McMinnville on Thursday, and the Forest Grove boys will travel to Jesuit this weekend for a tournament that will feature some of the top players in the state.

'It will be a challenge at all levels with Jesuit, Sunset and Oregon Episcopal being some of the top teams in the state,' Taylor said.