by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Madeline Parker returns a shot during last week’s district tennis tournament. Parker went on to win the singles title and is one of seven Lakers headed to this week’s state tournament.

If you were a girl in last week's Three Rivers League district tennis tournament, one thing was certain. You did not want to face anyone in navy blue.

The Lakers sent seven girls to state but that number doesn't describe how dominant the team was last Thursday and Friday. Even players who were on Lake Oswego's junior varsity squad for much of the year wreaked havoc in the brackets as the league champions' depth was on full display.

Those who were expected to advance to state did for the most part but that doesn't mean that there weren't a few upsets along the way.

One of the most dramatic matches of the entire tournament happened in the opening round. Lake Oswego's third doubles team of Megan MacKenzie and Lindsay Cowan squared off against Lakeridge's Nicole Johns and Julie Irvine.

The Pacers team was seeded but those who saw the bracket knew that their first round match would likely be difficult.

MacKenzie and Cowan got off to a quick start and captured the opening set 6-3. But Johns and Irvine were quick to recover, playing consistently in the second set and taking it 6-4.

Early in the third set, neither team could seize the momentum of the match but the hard-hitting Laker team mounted a late run and won the set 6-3, setting off a celebration.

'I think that was the highlight of our season. The team spirit was great and the girls really rallied around our team,' Laker coach Debbie Ford said.

MacKenzie and Cowan would win their second round match easily 6-0, 6-1 before running into West Linn's second doubles team, who played extremely well throughout the tournament and the Laker pair fell in the quarterfinals 6-0, 6-4.

Also in doubles, the top-seeded team of Markie Westwood and Molly Maguire were rarely tested, losing only three games in their first three matches. The team cruised to the district title without dropping a set.

But getting a second doubles team through to state proved to be more difficult for the Lakers.

Dayna Remmers and Megan Cougill had little difficulty in reaching the quarterfinals but then they faced the strong Lakeridge team of Kate Gosewehr and Jillian Kay.

The match turned out to be one of the best of the day. The first set went back and forth as both teams held serve. Finally, the Pacers earned a break only to have Lake Oswego break back in the next game, forcing a tiebreak.

Remmers and Cougill won the tiebreak but Gosewehr and Kay were quick to rally. The Pacer pair were stellar in the second set, winning it 6-3 and, seemingly, seizing the momentum.

The third set was as close as the first. Lakeridge held a slim advantage early on but Remmers and Cougill battled back, eventually rallying from a 0-40 hole during a crucial game and winning the set 7-5.

'That win was huge for us. The girls really came through when they needed to,' Ford said.

In singles, the bracket held form. Top-seeded Madeline Parker only dropped one game in her first three matches and was hardly tested in the tournament, easily dispatching West Linn's Danika Tonning in the final.

Freshman Bailey Westwood also picked up straight sets victories in her first three matches.

Fourth-seeded Hayley Standage, Lake Oswego's third singles player, was expected to earn the district's last state berth but she had, arguably the most difficult road ahead of her.

However, Standage rose to the occasion. She played consistently during the tournament's first day, qualifying for state with a 6-3, 6-1 victory in the semifinals.

The Lakers were also strong in the consolation bracket. Fifth singles player Shailini Pandya, who fell to Parker in the opening round, cruised to the consolation title.

Meanwhile, Lakeridge was shut out from state berths but had some standout performances. Despite losing early on, Johns and Irvine played well in the consolation bracket and Gosewehr and Kay, who were put together as a doubles team late in the season, gave the talented Laker doubles team all they could handle in the quarterfinals.

In singles, Olivia Stark continued her strong year, winning her first two matches 6-1, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-1 before falling in the quarterfinals.

Now Lake Oswego will gear up for state, where they finished in third place last year. The Lakers have an even stronger contingent this spring and are expected to contend for a state title.

Markie Westwood and Maguire earned the state's top seed in the doubles bracket and will enter as the favorites in the tournament after qualifying for the semifinals last year.

'Markie and Molly beat the number two seed at the Jesuit tournament but it was close,' Ford said.

In singles, Bailey Westwood drew a tough opening round match but has beaten her opponent previously. Ford was also pleased with Parker's draw.

Parker will likely face fourth-seeded Danielle Farmer from Grant in the second round. While Farmer knocked off Parker at state last year, Parker returned the favor earlier this season in a club match.

'It was the draw I was hoping for with Madeline. If she was going to have to face a seed early I would prefer it to be Danielle since she has played her competitively,' Ford said.

The Lakers will need every point they can muster if they hope to win the team title. Jesuit has an enormous contingent at state including the top two seeds in singles.

If the Crusaders, who have four doubles teams in the bracket, win a number of early matches, they could be difficult to beat.

'Jesuit will make it tough but I think we'll do very well. I hope to do better than last year,' Ford said.

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