Vikings win nail-biter against McMinnville

TENNIS: Forest Grove wins its first conference match of the year through a tiebreaking procedure
by: Chase Allgood, Forest Grove sophomore Brett Baumgartner rips a forehand during last Wednesday’s tennis match.

Forest Grove freshman Tyler Brabham may not have known it at the time, but his three-set loss to McMinnville's Max Thomas last Tuesday helped seal a team victory for the Vikings.

Brabham lost 4-6, 6-4, 3-6 in the last match of the day, but by stealing the second set from Thomas he gave Forest Grove the edge in total sets won, the first tiebreaker should the team score wind up deadlocked. Sure enough, the Vikings and Grizzlies found themselves tied 4-4 at the end of the match, but Forest Grove's 10-9 advantage in total sets won lifted the team to its first Pacific Conference victory of the year.

'All teams in the Pacific Conference will be highly competitive, and many matches will come down to who can win on these tiebreaking criteria,' said Forest Grove head coach Rich Taylor.

Forest Grove's No. 4 doubles team of Serge Schar and Donnie Schneider recorded a brisk 6-2, 6-0 win over Austin Toth and Sam Bernhisel to put the Vikings ahead 4-3 with only Brabham and Thomas left on the court. Brabham's second-set win gift-wrapped the match for Forest Grove.

Forest Grove's other three wins came in singles play, with Brett Baumgartner, Cameron Rutledge and Jordan Miller sweeping the top three spots. Baumgartner was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Mitchell Van Hoef at No. 1 singles; Rutledge posted a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Alex Kremer at No. 2; and Miller made short work of Thristan Henry at No. 3 with a 6-0, 6-0 win.

McMinnville kept the match interesting by winning three of four doubles matches. The tandem of Ross and Will Passo notched a 6-4, 6-3 win over Harrison Kistler and Erik Vandervelden at No. 1 doubles, and the duo of Ross Allen and Trevor Hollingsworth were 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 winners over Tyson Heesacker and Keoki Rossimo at No. 2. Kevin Chambers and Paul Pederson evened the overall score at 3-3 with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Steven Dean and Spencer Kemp at No. 3.

Taylor said that his team should remain competitive in singles play, and the overall depth of talented doubles players will boost the team as it moves forward.

'All three doubles teams have beaten each other in challenge rounds, and all want to earn the No. 2 slot for next week's league matches,' Taylor said.

The Vikings followed last Tuesday's performance with a 6-2 loss on the road against Newberg on Thursday. Only Baumgartner and Miller were victorious for the Viks, with Newberg sweeping all four doubles matches to pull away late.

Baumgartner picked up a runaway 6-0, 6-0 win over Matt Downey at No. 1 singles, and Miller followed with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Matt Jones at No. 3. That would be it for the Vikings, however, who dipped to 3-3 on the season and 1-1 in Pacific Conference play.

The Viks will be back in action today with a home match against Tigard.