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Weather makes playing and practicing tennis difficult

The Lake Oswego boys tennis team spent a large portion April working on their conditioning and agility. The Lakeridge team, meanwhile, spent most of the month playing basketball and indoor soccer. Because of a long run of bad weather, it seemed the one thing they didn't do much was play tennis.

When asked how many times her team had been rained out during April, Lake Oswego coach Denise Alexander replied, 'I can't even count.'

The one thing you can count on in Oregon this time of year is it will probably rain more times than not. So, through the first three weeks of the month, the Lake Oswego boys team played exactly two matches.

'It hasn't been for lack of trying,' Alexander said.

'One day, the weather looked great (from the West),' she said. Then, just before the match was scheduled to start, 'we got pummeled by a half-inch of hail (from the North).'

'It was so typical of what has happened this season,' the coach said.

But the Lakers did get some help from Mother Nature during the last week. During that time, the Lakers managed to play three matches, which included an 8-0 victory over Putnam and an 8-0 win over Clackamas. Results from Tuesday's match against Lakeridge were not available by press time.

In last week's victory over Putnam, all eight of the Lakers' individual wins were by straight sets.

In singles play, that meant easy victories for Keith Meagher (the No. 1 player), Trevor Chase (No. 2), Bobby Thurston (No. 3) and Alex Rossman (No. 4). Meagher won his match 6-1, 6-2 over Brad Henson while Thurston didn't give up a single set to Kelly McLeod. Chase had a slightly harder time as he registered a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Juha Nordlund.

In doubles, the No. 2 team of Taylor Atchison and Tommy Allen had the easiest time as they blanked Kyle Lindsay and Sung Kang. The No. 1 team of Garrett Smith and David Sklenar fared almost as well with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Alex Keppinger and Jeremy Nice.

The No. 3 doubles team of Evan Nyland and Charles Goldner and the No. 4 team of Alex Simpson and Alec Dorman also cruised to victory.

The ease of those matches wasn't much of a surprise, though.

'(Putnam) hasn't been too much of a contest for a while,' Alexander said.

The Lake Oswego coach was expecting a slightly tougher time against Clackamas on Monday, but there was a bit of a letdown when the Cavs' top player turned up sick and wasn't able to play.

Alexander was anxious to see Meagher play in that match, but when the Clackamas player was unavailable, Alexander decided to hold Meagher out as well.

That moved Chase into the Lakers' No. 1 singles spot and he registered a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Jeff Kline. Thurston, playing in the second position, bested Chris Dunn 6-2, 6-0. Then, Rossman defeated Kyler Korfel 7-6, 6-3 in No. 3 singles. The No. 4 player, Atchison, finished off singles play by beating Tyler Yamagushi 6-3, 6-1.

In doubles play, the No. 2 team of Smith and Lucas Mansfield and the No. 4 team of Allen and Nyland had the easiest times while scoring straight-set victories. The No. 1 team of Sklenar and David Mai and the No. 3 team of Goldner and Conor O'Sullivan also won their matches but they had to go an extra set.

The Clackamas match represented the first action for some of the Lake Oswego players in quite a while, so it wasn't surprising that they were somewhat out of sync.

'When you're a little rusty and you're put in a match situation, it really shows,' Alexander said.

'Even though they were a little rusty, they thought, 'OK, enough is enough. Let's just get this done,' ' the coach added.

Lakeridge, meanwhile, won its first seven matches (including non-league events) before the weather turned really bad earlier this month.

That undefeated run included a 6-2 victory over West Linn, the defending league champs. Lakeridge was then leading the rematch 2-1 when the event got washed out.

Through the first seven matches, Sean Eberle was clearly Lakeridge's top player. He had a 6-1 record during that span with his only loss coming to Clackamas' No. 1 player. Although he lost a 6-4, 6-3 decision, Eberle stayed in the match the entire way. In fact, Eberle was ahead 4-1 in the first set and then led 3-0 in the second set.

The Pacers' No. 2 player, Don Bagwell, also has had an excellent year. Through the first half of the season, he had only two losses and one of those came against West Linn's No. 1 player.

Meanwhile, Lakeridge coach Rick Prince is really impressed with the way Frank Chen and Grant Branam have performed as the No. 1 doubles team. They were undefeated through their first seven matches.

'They just compliment each other extremely well,' Prince said. 'I think they'll be tough to beat.'

The No. 2 doubles team of Nick Corey and Gavin Brinck also was undefeated during the team's first seven matches. Both are relative newcomers to the sport, 'and you wouldn't know it,' Prince said.

Lakeridge also has gotten some good play from its third and fourth singles players. In the No. 3 spot, Brian Hughes had only one early-season loss and it came against West Linn's No. 2 player. And the Pacers' No. 4 player, Brett Northfield, had an unblemished record through seven matches.

At third doubles, Max Grove often finds himself with a new partner each match, but he's adopted well.

'You've got to be creative sometimes,' Prince said. 'But he's got the greatest attitude.'

The No. 4 doubles team of Kevin Shea and Joey Bora has proved to be 'incredibly strong in that position,' Prince said.

When the weather turned bad, Prince decided to see how good his players were at basketball and indoor soccer - two sports that use similar footwork to tennis. So far, no one is complaining.

'We really don't have practices any more and we just play when we can,' Prince said.