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Crusader girls take second

Lincoln's girls hand Jesuit a first-ever loss in the district tourney
by: Miles Vance FAB FROSH — Jesuit freshman Erin Larner played a big role in the Crusaders’ runner-up finish at district by winning the singles title at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center on Saturday.

BEAVERTON - The 2011 season was a season of firsts for the Jesuit girls tennis team, and not all good ones.

The Lincoln girls - who earlier this season handed the Crusaders their first-ever Metro League loss - provided another of those unwelcome, unprecedented firsts on Saturday when they won the Metro District Tournament with 40 points to Jesuit's 35. Sunset was third with 20 points in the tournament, held May 12 through Saturday at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.

Despite that result, the Crusaders played very, very well at district, crowning the district singles champion in freshman Erin Larner, sending senior Sanji Rao and freshman Darby Rosette in the doubles final and qualifying two doubles teams to state.

Larner, who is now top-seeded for this week's Class 6A state tournament - it opens at 8 a.m. today (Thursday) at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center, and continues at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, also at Tualatin Hills - made her first district tournament one for the memory books.

She swept Southridge's Grace Kim 6-0, 6-0 in her opening match, did the same to Lincoln's Xu in round two, made it three straight with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Beaverton's Maria Kojima in the quarterfinals, then very nearly saw her championship hopes derailed in the semi.

There, Larner won the first set over Lincoln freshman Cam Kincaid 6-2, but lost the second 6-0 before rallying to advance with another 6-2 win in the third set that sent her on to the final.

'I didn't really know what was going to happen,' Larner said. 'I kind of let up a little bit (in the second set) but I was able to get it back.'

Energized by her victory there, the top-seeded Larner rolled into the tournament championship and dispatched second-seeded Arianna Fardanesh of Lincoln there, winning 6-1, 6-4 to secure her first district crown.

'I knew I was going to have some tough competition, so I just had to play my game, and whatever happened, happened,' Larner said. 'But I was just making my shots. I was focused, so it was good.'

Also headed to state in singles are Kincaid and Sunset's Lindsay Yeom. Yeom won three straight matches to reach the semifinals and earn a state berth. She knocked off Aloha's Ruano 6-0, 6-0 in round one, won 6-0, 6-0 again over Katherine Benedict of Jesuit in round two, then knocked off teammate Lucy Nam 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.

But Fardanesh stopped Yeom 6-4, 6-0 in the semi, and Kincaid followed suit in the third-place match, winning 6-4, 6-2.

Also reaching the quarterfinals were Jesuit's Ann Martel and Westview's Roopa Ramanujam.

In doubles play, Lincoln freshmen Allie and Kadie Hueffner stepped up to win their first district crown, and beating the top-seeded Rao and Rosette in the process. Rao and Rosette looked unstoppable on their road to the final, shutting out Grace and Jenny Shin of Southridge 6-0, 6-0 in round one, taking out Michelle Rouse and Valerie Frost of Westview 6-0, 6-1 in the second round, stopping Lincoln's Norris and Farrier 6-2, 6-1 in their quarterfinal, then knocking off Faye Chaiyabutr and Anna Lee of Southridge 6-3, 6-1 in their semi.

But the second-seeded Hueffners held the upper hand in the finale, using their speed and consistency to beat Rao and Rosette 6-2, 6-2 and secure the district title.

'They're positive players. They get every ball back. They're very tenacious and they're strong,' Rao said. 'I congratulate them. They deserve it.'

'They hit the ball in and they get most of the balls back,' Rosette added. 'They're just a good team.'

That said, Rao and Rosette - third-seeded at state - know they can play better and would love to see the Hueffners again.

'Today was not our best,' Rao said. 'We'll try to play better next time. I think we can have a good showing at state as a team. We'll go for it.'

'We're just looking forward to going to state and playing well,' Rosette added. 'We're just going to practice and get as many balls over as we can, and work on our footwork and all that.'

Chaiyabutr and Lee won the fifth seed at the state tournament after coming back to beat Jesuit's Erin Madden and Sarah Murphy 7-6, 7-6 in the third-place match.

Other Beaverton-area teams reaching the tournament quarterfinals were Southridge's Hannah Ott and Reah Luzuriaga, and Sunset's Nicole Nagel and Samantha Nelson.