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Singles play has sparked Forest Grove tennis

Viking boys win three matches last week behind a talented crop of singles players


The Forest Grove boys tennis team is still finding its way this season, but these Vikings are doing all right.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Forest Grove sophomore Mitchell Faris hits a forehand during his singles match last Thursday against Luis Audelo of McNary.

The singles-heavy squad is continuing to adjust to life in the Greater Valley Conference while coach Peter McKinnon is waiting to see how his doubles players come along.

But all of that could lead to the Vikings becoming a team on the rise this spring. Last week, Forest Grove easily dispatched South Salem 7-1 on Tuesday and McNary 8-0 on Thursday before finally beating West Salem 7-1 in a contest that was rescheduled a number of times due to rainouts.

Given that McKinnon’s group this year is particularly loaded at singles, the coach is playing to his strengths and trying to get that group as much time on the court as he can.

“We have five really good players, and then it falls off pretty hard from there, but that other group’s coming up, as they always do throughout the year, because ... kids get better, so we’ll see how that goes,” McKinnon said last week as he watched his team take on the Celtics at home.

Mitchell Faris has established himself at the top of the singles order. Last year, he won the Pacific Conference consolation title as just a freshman, and he has continued to build on that great start this year, losing only to Sprague’s Logan Blair through last Thursday.

Faris had little trouble in his McNary match, blowing by Luis Audelo 6-1, 6-1.

“I was playing good,” Faris said. “When I’m playing a match like that, I wanted to work on things that I need to work on, like getting my first serve in and hitting through the ball and getting good shots in, not hitting everything out. Just stuff like that.”

The rest of his teammates did well also. Collectively, the Vikings dropped just 16 games to the Celtics. The team’s other winners included Andrew VanDyke, Cameron Lester and Chase Morgan in singles. Brady Lester and Julian Kirchler won the top doubles match, while fellow tandems Gilberto Garfias-Mejia and Kyle Fasching, Octavio Garfias-Mejia and Reid Schneider, and Tomas Stofik and Steve Rodriguez-Garcia also breezed to victory.

Along with Doug Wilbur, VanDyke, Lester and Morgan are the other players in the singles rotation. Wilber has been pushing VanDyke for the No. 2 spot after getting a late start to the season because of illness, while McKinnon called Morgan a tricky opponent due to his style of play.

“He doesn’t have the classic strokes that these other guys have, but when he plays matches with them, he gives them fits because he just keeps the ball in play,” McKinnon observed.

As for the doubles players, they are progressing, said McKinnon, who highlighted Brady Lester, Fasching, Kirchler, the Garfias-Mejias and Schneider as promising.

“They can play,” he said about his doubles kids. “Given a few more matches, I think we might start to be able to pick off a few of the doubles matches. I think they just need a little more time this year on the courts.”

McKinnon said that Sprague has dominated the league for a number of years, and he expected West Albany and McMinnville to be tough as well.

But keep an eye out for the Vikings.

“We’re just really young,” Faris said. “We’re just trying to get better as the year goes on and improve a lot.”

Note: Results of Forest Grove’s match scheduled for Tuesday at home against West Albany were not available at press deadline. On Thursday, the Vikings travel to North Salem, and they play host to McMinnville next Tuesday.

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