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Girls tennis tops Lakeridge by slim margin

by: Matthew Sherman, 
West Linn’s Christiana Cha returns a serve during last Tuesday’s victory over Lakeridge. Cha and her partner, Kaitlan Locke, won their match in straight sets.

The Lions couldn't have made it much more exciting in their most important tennis match of the early season last Tuesday. West Linn took on a strong Lakeridge squad and came out on top, tying the Pacers in matches, but winning 10-9 in sets.

West Linn features most of its core from last season's squad, which took second in the league and broke a long losing streak to Lakeridge in the process.

This year the Lions are equally as strong while the Pacers are slightly better than they were in 2006. Given that it is still early in the season and that the match was played in cold and blustery conditions, West Linn's victory is impressive and should go a long way in the team's quest to repeat last year's success.

Against the Pacers, the Lions swept the opening four matches of the day and then had to hold on down the stretch, capturing two crucial sets to clinch the victory.

'It was pretty fun. We're pretty evenly matched (with Lakeridge) and they are deeper than they were last year,' coach Aaron Downs said.

At first singles, Danika Tonning endured a slow pace but was able to outlast her opponent in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

'Danika's a phenomenal player. She's consistent and quick, which is a pretty good combination,' Downs said.

At second singles, Kellie Kawasaki also walked away with a lopsided victory 6-0, 6-1. But in doubles, the matches were more closely contested.

West Linn's top doubles team of Christiana Cha and Kaitlan Locke notched a hard-fought victory while, at second doubles, Alex Smith and Susan Zack easily won the opening set but dropped the second. They were able to rally for an impressive 6-1 victory in the third set.

But even with those four victories, the Lions weren't able to clinch the match until the final contests of the day.

'The weather was definitely a factor for both teams. By 7 p.m. it was freezing out there,' Downs said.

At third doubles, Taylor Coronel and Catherine Broadhurst took the first set of the match before dropping the next two while, at fourth doubles, Danielle Meyer and Haley Graham also won the first set, which proved to be the margin of victory for the team.

Meyer and Graham lost the second set and then dropped a 10-point tiebreaker, giving the match to Lakeridge.

It was an impressive early victory for the Lions who moved to 3-0 on the season. In non-league contests, West Linn topped Sunset 6-2 and Barlow 8-0.

Against the Bruins, West Linn didn't lose a set and only lost seven total games in singles as Tonning, Kawasaki, Courtney Moore and Torie Bechtold all won handily.

'The girls are committed. We have a tough schedule this year and we hope to continue what we've been building,' Downs said.

The Lions will have their hands full this year with two matches against Lake Oswego but will gear up for those showdowns with tough non-league opponents, including St. Mary's today (Thursday) and at a tournament in Bend.

West Linn will face Lakeridge again later in the season on the heels of its first match against the Lakers.