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Tennis squad in rebuilding mode (revised version)

Sandy girls tennis coach Greg Thorson knows coaching at a small school makes his job harder, but he continues to work each season to lead the Pioneers program toward respectability.

'We are in a rebuilding process, with our goals each year to be competitive and have fun,' Thorson said.

Thorson enters 2007 on a positive note. His team is coming off the best girls season in school history. The Pioneers finished the 2006 season at 8-8 as a team and sent two players to the district meet.

'We are the only school in the Mount Hood conference that doesn't have a private indoor club within ten minutes,' Thorson said. 'Therefore we only get a few kids that have started (playing tennis) early and have any tennis skills entering high school.'

Senior Janna Hyland returns as Sandy's top singles player. Hyland won three of her last five matches last season to build momentum for this season. Melissa Sharp and Sarah Stuart take over as the second and third singles players.

'(Janna) was our No. 1 last season and finished strong,' Thorson said. '(Melissa and Sarah) take over No. 2 and 3 this year with little experience. They are a little over-matched but have been working hard and I keep trying to keep them from getting discouraged.'

Thorson has to replace his top three doubles teams, but is he excited about the attitude of his young doubles units. Seniors Laurel Jones and Monica Reardon, who were the Pioneers fourth-unit double team last season, move up to the number one team. Juniors Kylie Kubitz and Julia Gomes will be the second and Amanda Wedgeworth and Allie Barbis will start third.

'Jumping from fourth to first doubles team (Laurel Jones and Reardon) is a tough jump, but the girls have been battling hard and are excited about the jump in competition,' Thorson said.

Thorson also indicated he is extremely excited about senior Katie Walters, who starts this season with no high school tennis experience.

'(Katie) has not played before and she can stroke the ball and volley very well,' Thorson said.

Competing against two of the top tennis schools in Oregon (St. Mary's and Central Catholic) Thorson knows his team is starting at a disadvantage before the season begins.

'(St. Mary's and Central Catholic) are the top team's in not only the league but the state and it is hard to compete with them,' Thorson said. 'My goal is just to get my girls to have a great high school experience and enjoy the game of tennis.'

Knowing that his girls have to play those types of teams during the league, Thorson said he tries to schedule teams that Sandy has a fighting chance against.

'My philosophy is that there is no substitute for winning. It makes no sense to play a team where we would have no chance so at our level, we try to schedule teams that we will be competitive with.'