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Nyamu represents Forest Grove at Class 6A tennis tournament

Karimi Nyamu picks up a first-round win before bowing out of the state tournament

 - Forest Grove senior Karimi Nyamu hits a backhand last Thursday during the first round of the Class 6A girls tennis state tournament. 
It’s all about perspective.

Forest Grove senior Karimi Nyamu didn’t advance as far as she would have liked at last week’s Class 6A girls tennis state tournament, but she did win her first round match and give the tourney’s No. 4 seed a run for her money in the second round, placing Nyamu in prestigious company.

“After the tournament I told Karimi, ‘You’re one of 24 girls playing at the highest level of Oregon high school tennis,’” Forest Grove coach T.J. Buehler said. “She won her first match, so the way I look at it, she’s one of the top 16 female tennis players in the state. That’s pretty impressive.”

In fact, Nyamu advanced as far as anyone else from the Greater Valley Conference, including district champion Alex Sorte of West Albany, who was unceremoniously bounced in the second round by unseeded Ivana Bilski of Willamette. Sorte didn’t even win a match after being awarded a bye in the first round.

“Karimi felt pretty good about the fact that she got as far as anyone in our district,” Buehler said. “It was a great experience for her and for me, plus it was great for the rest of the team to have someone to pull for at state.”

Nyamu opened the tournament last Thursday against Lincoln freshman Anthea Leng. Playing at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton, Nyamu jumped out to a quick lead after winning the first three games.

“It’s always good to get the first few games of the first set to give yourself a little breathing room,” Buehler said. “That seemed to give her a little boost of confidence.”

In the end, Nyamu controlled the match from start to finish, and she advanced with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory.

“(Leng) was a good little player, but she was just a freshman,” Buehler noted. “I think Karimi was just a little bit more patient. She just outlasted her point after point.

“Karimi played really well and really under control. I don’t remember any point during that match when she wasn’t in complete control.”

In round two, Nyamu ran up against No. 4 seed and Southwest Conference champion Wren Eustis of South Eugene. Hardly an overpowering player, Eustis used her accuracy and composure to work Nyamu around the court and eventually score a 6-3, 6-2 victory that sent her to the quarterfinals.

Eustis lost to eventual state runner-up Katie Day of Lake Oswego. Jesuit junior Bess Waldram won the title with a 6-2, 6-3 decision in the final.

“Neither Karimi or I had ever seen (Eustis) play, so we really didn’t know what to expect,” Buehler said. “She wasn’t a real big hitter, just very consistent. She really picked her spots.

“I think in the back of her mind, Karimi was maybe a little intimidated about playing the No. 4 seed, but after the first few points she realized, ‘Hey, I can play with this girl.’ I don’t think she played badly, she just ran into a very good player.”

For Nyamu, the real pain of winning her first match and losing her second was that she didn’t get to play in the consolation bracket, which is reserved for players who lose in the first round. Leng charged through that bracket and wound up playing Lincoln teammate and fellow freshman Reed Hazard in the consolation final, which Hazard won 6-1, 6-0.

“Karimi was pumped to advance past the first round, but she wanted to play more tennis,” Buehler said. “That was the tough part, because I could tell that she just wanted to keep playing.”


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