Karimi Nyamu and Natalie Brandt become Forest Grove's first state qualifiers since 2011

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove's Karimi Nyamu hits a serve during last weekend's state tournament while doubles teammate Natalie Brandt waits at the net.Karimi Nyamu and Natalie Brandt certainly made their first trip to state count.

The Forest Grove doubles tandem orchestrated quite a run through last week’s Class 6A girls tennis state tournament — all the way to Saturday’s consolation championship match. That meant they were one of just a handful of 6A girls doubles teams still playing on the final day of the three-day tournament, which ended Saturday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Nyamu said. “I just learned so much from playing other teams that are so much better than me, so it was a really good experience.”

After dropping a three-set heartbreaker in the first round Thursday, Brandt and Nyamu rebounded for consecutive wins in consolation play before falling 6-0, 6-1 to the Grants Pass duo of Mckenna Stephenson and Abi Johnson in the consolation final.

Their efforts earned a point in the team standings, which landed Forest Grove 24th overall. Jesuit won the state title with 27 points.

Brandt, a senior, and Nyamu, a junior, came within a whisker of advancing to the second round last Thursday at the Portland Tennis Center.

Squaring off against Central Catholic’s Emma Anderson and Julia Johnson, the Vikings’ pair earned a close win in the first set and then battled tooth and nail the rest of the way before falling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“Even though we lost that first match, we played really well, and so we didn’t feel too bad about it, because we knew we had a pretty good chance in consolation as well,” Nyamu said.

The run could have ended the following day in consolation play, as the Vikings drew a rematch against Newberg’s Alenka Beralas and Maddie Wiltshire. The Tigers duo had defeated Nyamu and Brandt the week before in straight sets during the Pacific Conference tournament third-place match.

This time, though, Nyamu and Brandt turned the tables on the Newberg pair, prevailing 8-6 in a pro set contest. For good measure, Brandt and Nyamu added an 8-5 win later that day against Central Catholic’s Luca Breslau and Catherine Johnson to advance to the consolation championship match, staged Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.

Going back to a best two-out-of-three format against Stephenson and Johnson, Brandt and Nyamu could not quite complete their run through the consolation bracket. But they did become the first Forest Grove girls to score points at the state tennis tournament since 2011, when Lauren Wilber represented the Vikings in singles.

“Playing on the third day was a lot of fun, even though we didn’t win that match,” Nyamu said. “They were a great team. It was just good to be there and give it all we had.”

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