It's hard for the Lake Oswego girls tennis team not to get ahead of itself this season. The team returns the bulk of its squad which finished third in state last season, including its top players.

From top to bottom, the Lakers may possess the most talented team in the state and expectations are understandably high. But coach Debbie Ford is trying to keep her girls grounded, only focusing on winning league as the primary goal.

'We really don't know what to expect. Right now we're just focusing on our play in the Three Rivers League and taking it one match at a time but we're really optimistic,' Ford said.

Due to weather, Lake Oswego has only been able to get in one match so far this year, easily dispatching Milwaukie 8-0 on Tuesday.

The Pacers will be tested by both West Linn and Lakeridge this year but to say that they are strong favorites to win the league is an understatement.

Madeline Parker returns as the team's number one singles player. She made the quarterfinals at the state tournament last year and, in an offseason match, she topped Danielle Farmer, the girl who ended her run at state in 2006.

'Madeline is playing very well. She has added some more weapons to her game,' Ford said.

At first doubles, Markie Westwood and Molly Maguire are back and are amongst the best doubles teams in the state. Last year, the duo made it to the semifinals at state before losing to the eventual state champions.

Markie's younger sister, Bailey Westwood, will be the team's number two singles player as a freshman.

'Bailey plays a lot like her sister. She's beautiful to watch,' Ford said.

At second doubles, Dayna Remmers, who qualified for state last season, teams with Megan Cougill. Megan MacKenzie and Lindsay Cowan, who were undefeated until the district meet last year, will be the Lakers' third doubles team followed by a pair of sophomores, Leslie Levine and Stephanie Wolfram.

In singles, Hayley Standage and Emily Murphy will play in the third and fourth slots for Lake Oswego.

With that much talent in place, some of the best competition that the team will see comes during practice as teams and individual players will jockey for position during challenge matches.

Ford will carry 18 varsity players this year because, with the absence of St. Helens from the league, there will be more berths in the district tournament, which bodes well for a team as deep as Lake Oswego.

The Lakers will take on both Lakeridge and West Linn after spring break and will also compete in the always-competitive Jesuit Tournament, which should provide them with a good indicator of just how good the team could be this year.

Next up for Lake Oswego will be a match today (Thursday) against Oregon City.

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