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Local tennis stars head to state

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Keith Meagher, above, takes aim at a return shot during this week’s district tennis tournament that was held at Portland Tennis Center. Meagher earned a trip to state in singles play by advancing to the district semifinals. Also earning a trip to state was Lakeridge’s Sean Eberle.


STAFF PHOTOS /
VERN UYETAKE

In a district tournament where five of six schools in attendance are sending at least one player to the upcoming state tournament, Lake Oswego and Lakeridge emerged as the big winners.

There were very few surprises on the opening day of the boys district tennis tournament at Portland Tennis Center on Tuesday and, as a result, Lake Oswego qualified a pair of doubles teams and its top singles player for state while Lakeridge saw a doubles team and singles player advance.

The Lakers, as expected, will have the Three Rivers League's largest contingent at state and could do some damage in what should be a wide open tournament.

Lake Oswego's Keith Meagher, who held the district's top seed in the tournament, cruised in his first three matches, needing less than half an hour to win each contest.

Meagher looked dominant and should receive one of four seeds at the state tournament, which could set him up for a run at a singles title.

'Keith always gets better as his matches go on. We're really excited to see what he's going to do against the state's best competition,' Lake Oswego coach Denise Alexander said.

While it was practically a foregone conclusion that Meagher would win handily in his early matches, the Lakers hoped that one of their other singles competitors could join him.

Bobby Thurston was dominant in his opening match and, after dropping the first set in the round of 16, he rallied to win the next two 6-0, 6-1, setting up a quarterfinal match with the second seed in the tournament from Clackamas.

However, freshman Zhenya Pereverzen proved to be too talented and eliminated Thurston.

Lake Oswego's Trevor Chase also made the quarterfinals before running into Lakeridge's Sean Eberle, the defending district champion.

Eberle was solid, holding off Chase's late charge for a 6-1, 6-3 victory to earn another trip to state.

'Sean hasn't been healthy for much of the season, so we're pretty excited for him. You couldn't ask for a better kid. I think he's more mature than I am,' said Lakeridge coach Rick Prince.

The second round saw another clash between Lake Oswego and Lakeridge singles players. In the best match of the round of 16, the Pacers' Don Bagwell took on Lake Oswego's Alex Rossman.

The two traded games in the first set before Bagwell earned a late break and a 6-4 victory. But Rossman rallied impressively, jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the second set.

Bagwell didn't give up, however, and managed to force a tiebreaker. In that tiebreak, Bagwell played consistently, winning it 7-3.

Bagwell, who was battling flu symptoms all day, then took on Putnam's Brad Henson in the quarterfinals and was, once again locked in a tough battle.

Bagwell eked out a victory in another tiebreaker to take the first set and was midway through the second set before leg cramps kicked in. The Pacer was unable to continue and was forced to retire.

'Don probably shouldn't have even played. He was so sick with this terrible flu bug. It was a really gutsy performance,' Prince said.

In doubles, Lake Oswego's top two teams had the second and third seeds in the tournament and went untested in their opening two matches.

Lucas Manfield and Garrett Smith won 6-1, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-0 before their quarterfinal match. The Laker pair continued its consistent play and advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

The doubles team of David Mai and David Sklenar was expected to have a slightly tougher road to state as a potential showdown with a talented West Linn duo loomed ahead.

Mai and Sklenar only dropped one game in their first two matches before squaring off against the Lion team of Kevin Kirkemo and Brett Wright.

Mai and Sklenar played one of their best matches of the season in the midst of heavy winds, which picked up in the afternoon. The Lakers outlasted West Linn 6-3 in the opening set and rode that momentum to a 6-1 victory in the second set and won the match.

Meanwhile, Lakeridge's top doubles team of Grant Branam and Frank Chen cruised to straight sets victories in their first matches before besting Lake Oswego's third doubles team in the quarterfinals to earn a trip to state.

The state tournament will be held next Thursday through Saturday.