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Girls tourney features marathon matches

tennis -- Girls' draws at the 'Tennis in the Grove' tournament showcases some of the most competitive matches of the week

The boys may have drawn most of the attention, but some of the best tennis this weekend was played in the girls' draws at the annual 'Tennis in the Grove' USTA junior tournament.

Steffanie Mortera went undefeated in round robin play to win the girls 18 Champions Division and Abby Olbrich won the Challenger event. Meanwhile, Jenise Vargas won four straight matches to take the girls 14 Champions Division title, and Priyanka Vachhani was victorious in the Challenger Division.

The Champions Division of the girls 14 draw featured several of the best matches of the weekend, including a showdown on Sunday between Vargas and Kathryn Lorish. In a match that lasted over two hours, Vargas eventually outlasted her opponent and captured the tournament title with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 come-from-behind victory.

'The temperature was 88 degrees, but their play made it a much hotter match,' said Rich Taylor, the varsity tennis coach at Forest Grove High School. 'Several points lasted well over 14 strokes. Both girls played a very solid all court style.'

With only five registered players in the Champions Division, the girls 14 draw was technically a round robin format, but Vargas won the title by going undefeated over the weekend. She bested Arianna Fardanesh 6-2, 6-4 in the opener, then dispatched Sheena Kapur 6-3, 6-2 in her next match. Vargas topped Krizia Buck 6-0, 6-3 to set up the final match against Lorish, who was also undefeated in her first three matches.

Lorish beat Kapur 6-3, 6-4 in their tournament opener, then edged both Buck and Fardanesh by identical scores of 6-2, 7-5 before falling short against Vargas in what was essentially the championship match.

Fardanesh took third place with a 2-2 record, Buck was fourth with one win and Kapur was winless for the weekend.

The Champions Division bracket of the girls 18 draw had only four registered players, but Mortera walked away with the trophy by winning all three of her matches. Mortera opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Nicole Latham, then followed with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Colleen Suklje and a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Stefanie Doolittle.

Suklje took second place with a 2-1 record that included a 6-4, 6-3 win over Doolittle and a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Latham. Doolittle defeated Latham 6-1, 7-6 to effectively claim third place.

The Challenger Division of the girls 18 draw was the only bracket on the female side with enough participants to avoid a round robin format. Olbrich won that title with three straight victories.

Olbrich opened with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewashing of Thai-Hien Do in the first round, then followed with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Sarah Click to advance to the finals.

Her opponent, Heidi Connelly, benefitted from a first-round forfeit, then outlasted Monica Nash 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the semifinals.

The final match was a relatively brief affair, with Olbrich winning 6-2, 6-1.

Amanda Lewis, who suffered a tough 6-7, 7-6, 5-7 loss to Nash in the first round, came back to win the consolation bracket when Do had to retire due to illness.

The Challenger Division of the girls 14 draw was another four-player round robin affair, and the title went to Vachhani, who won all three of her matches.

Vachhani took out Lisa Nicholson 7-5, 6-1 in their tournament opener, then cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Alexa Daskalos and a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Hannah Ott to claim the trophy.

Ott would win her other two matches to finish second. She beat Daskalos 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the opener and survived two tough sets against Nicholson, eventually winning 7-5, 7-5.

Nicholson would beat Daskalos 7-5, 6-1 in the final match of the weekend to take third place.

'Tennis in the Grove' will continue this weekend with boys and girls action at the 12- and 16-year-old level. Matches will start on Saturday with finals scheduled for late Sunday afternoon.

There will be a Champions and Challenger Division in each of the four age brackets.