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Tennis in the Grove

Local favorite Brett Baumgartner wins a singles championship to highlight Forest Grove's annual USTA junior tennis tournament
by: photo by Chase Allgood,

Forest Grove rising sophomore Brett Baumgartner, who teamed with Chris Wallace to win a Pac-9 district doubles championship earlier this spring, captured a singles title at the annual 'Tennis in the Grove' USTA junior tournament over the weekend.

Playing in the Challenger Division of the boys 18-year-old draw, Baumgartner, who is only 15, survived a tough semifinal match against Michael Blevins, then cruised to a victory in the tournament championship against Hillsboro's Robbie Unger.

In the Champions Division of the boys 18 draw, Nicholas Wales of Salem outlasted Dylan Page of Portland in a three-set marathon to capture the tournament title. Elsewhere, Christopher Wiechert bested top-seeded Preston Mann in the boys 14 Champions Division, while Aaron Blevins won the Challenger Division.

But for Forest Grove tennis fans, Baumgartner's victory was the story of the weekend.

The moppy-haired Baumgartner, who played No. 1 singles for the majority of the varsity tennis season at Forest Grove, advanced to the semifinals with a forfeit win in round one, then set to work against a determined Blevins.

After Baumgartner took the first set, Blevins held off seven match points to win the second set and tie things up. Blevins then held off match point two more times in the third set before Baumgartner was finally able to put him away, winning the match 6-1, 7-6, 6-1.

The semifinals proved to be the match of the day, however, as Baumgartner made short work of Unger in the finals. Baumgartner's ground strokes were crisp and Unger never got into a comfort zone, allowing the local favorite to win the match 6-3, 6-1.

The Champions Division of the boys 18 bracket was a well-stocked affair, featuring five players who appeared in the 4A state singles championships this past spring.

Wales and Page each survived the first three rounds to get to the finals, where the two players waged a three-set war in the grueling July heat. Wales, the tournament's top seed and a rising senior at Sprague High School, eventually outlasted his unseeded opponent, winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.

Wales took a slightly easier path to the tournament finals, advancing from the first round via forfeit and making short work of Sean Crawford with a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the quarterfinals. The Sprague star then edged Sean Eberle, a state tournament participant and rising senior at Lakeridge, 7-5, 6-1 in the semifinals to advance to the Champions Division final.

Page, meanwhile, ousted Dylan Olbrich 6-1, 7-5 in round one, then thumped fourth-seeded Brad Henson of Putnam 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Page squared off against second-seeded Dimitri Anast of Aloha and slugged his way to an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory.

The consolation bracket of the Champions Division featured some epic matches, including a pair of grueling three-setters in the semifinals.

Micah Leo outlasted Chris Seibel 7-6, 6-7 (6), 6-0 to advance to the consolation finals, where he met up with Olbrich, who also survived a three-set marathon in the semifinals. Olbrich slugged his way to a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6) win over Reed Nibley to get to the finals.

The heated play in the semifinals apparently had less effect on Olbrich, as he cruised in the consolation finals, winning 6-3, 6-0 against Leo.

In the younger division, second-seeded Wiechert made short work of all his opponents, cruising to a title in the Champions Division. Wiechert received a bye in the first round, then edged Ted Bolton 7-5, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Nick Biggi provided little resistance in the semifinals as Wiechert cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 triumph, followed by a breezy 6-1, 6-1 victory over top-seeded Preston Mann in the tournament finals.

Mann powered his way to the finals with a 6-1, 6-4 win over William Jager in the quarterfinals, followed by an identical 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Alen Suklje in the semis. Unfortunately, his luck ran out against Wiechert in the championship match.

Kainoa Rosa won the consolation bracket, beating Austin Winters 6-0, 6-0 in the finals.

The Challenger Division of the boys 14 draw featured some highly competitive matches, including a three-setter in the finals between Aaron Blevins and Spencer Larkin. Blevins eventually came out on top, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to take the tournament trophy.

Larson could be forgiven if he was a bit fatigued, however, as he advanced to the finals courtesy of another three-set marathon. In the semifinals, Larson stormed back from an early deficit to edge Marcin Kowalski 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, earning a berth in the finals. Earlier in the tournament, Larson beat Peder Gram 6-3, 6-0 in round one, then topped Isaac Dalke 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Blevins needed only three wins to get to the finals after receiving a bye in round one. He edged Adam Quandt 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, then toppled Connor Leahy 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Forest Grove will host another tennis tournament this weekend. It will feature boys and girls action - both Champions and Challenger Division - at the 12- and 16-year-old level.