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Falcons No. 1 in boys tennis

Pineda, Hey brothers bag state titles

EUGENE - La Salle Prep's boys tennis team made a lot of noise at last weekend's Class 4A/3A/2A/1A State High School Tennis Championships.

La Salle Prep junior Luis Pineda, an exchange student from Mexico, dominated the singles bracket, losing only nine games in eight sets en route to winning the singles title.

And the Falcon doubles team of junior Max Hey and freshman Xander Hey was no less impressive, winning three of their four matches in straight sets en rout to the doubles title.

It's La Salle's very first state title in boys doubles, and the Falcons' first boys singles title and first boys state team title since 1979.

The Falcons scored 18 team points to finish well ahead of the state runner-up boys team from Catlin Gabel, which scored 7.

Pineda, who has been a highly ranked player in Mexico for years, finished the 2011 Oregon high school season unbeaten.

Pineda breezed by Phoenix junior Wil Cochrane in his singles final, winning 6-1, 6-3.

He defeated third-seeded Crook County senior Trevor Brown in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-0, after advancing through wins over Roosevelt junior Zach Pierce (6-0, 6-1) and over Sherman junior Scot Stroud (6-1, 6-0).

The Hey brothers, who teamed up to play doubles together for the first time this year, won their finals match with Valley Catholic players Adam Quandt and Connor Picken, 6-3, 6-4. They defeated Cascade Christian juniors Eric Morse and Taylor Pena in the semifinals, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In other matches, Max and Xander defeated Oregon Episcopal freshmen Harsha Uppili and Kevin Haugh, 6-2, 6-1, and Trenton Howard and Brandon Zunino of Baker, 6-2, 6-2.

The Falcons advanced to state after winning Special District 2 regular-season titles and end-of-the-season tournaments in both boys and girls tennis.

La Salle coach Mike Stone had these observations about his players and the 2011 high school season:

'Luis was 15-0 in singles play [on the season], including wins against a couple of the top 6A players.

'Luis is a very smart player who avoids over-hitting and concentrates instead on creating openings with different spins and depth, a contrast to most high school players who think hitting the ball hard is the name of the game….

'Max, who went to state last year as a singles player, and Xander work well together and toward the end of the season they understood doubles strategy. By using that strategy they were able to win a crucial semi-final match at state, after losing the first set.

'Their only losses this year were in a 6A tournament and against the No. 1 team from Catlin Gable. Otherwise, they were 14-0.

'The state title was a team effort - including the doubles team of senior Austin Beaton and junior Will Holloran, who picked up valuable points early, before losing to the eventual fourth-place team from North Marion.

'I was very proud of this team for their sportsmanship, work ethics and dedication to our goals: go undefeated in the league, win the district, qualify several players for state, and win state.'