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Vikings look to show off improvement as season winds down

Forest Grove girls round out the regular season and set their sights on the GVC tournament


The Forest Grove girls tennis team is right on schedule.

“Everybody has gotten way better. Everybody’s improved. Everybody’s getting a little mentally tougher,” Viking coach T.J. Buehler said earlier this week. “I think the funny thing about this year so far ... honestly, I think we have done exactly what I expected us to do.

“Of the teams that we played, the ones we should have beaten, we beat. The ones that should have beat us, beat us. And that’s really the way it’s gone.”

Overall though, it has gone pretty well. The Vikings entered the week at 8-3 overall and 2-2 in Greater Valley Conference duals. This week, the squad starts heading into the homestretch with the second half of GVC play.

The schedule sets up well for Forest Grove to make a move in the standings, as the team is rounding out its schedule with four opponents against which the Vikings have already posted a 3-1 record.

However, that grouping of matches does not count in the league standings. Each team plays half of the other squads in the conference twice and the rest only once, so the first matches against twice-scheduled teams do not factor into the standings.

“I expect that they’ll all be better than they were when we met them, but I think we’re better too,” Buehler said about the repeat foes. “So it’ll be interesting.”

That lone prior loss among Forest Grove’s final four opponents came against South Salem but was rather irregular given that the match was started and then suspended due to weather. When play resumed a couple days later, three Forest Grove varsity players were not available.

“I kind of feel like we have a pretty good chance to take down all the (teams) we have left, but we’ll have to play well to do it, for sure,” Buehler said.

Singles play has remained a team strength. Now that he has gotten a look at everyone else in the GVC, Buehler does consider his top two singles players, Karimi Nyamu and Esther Vega, as threats to qualify for state at next month’s conference tournament. He also said his Nos. 3 and 4 singles players, Lesley Aguilar and Jacqueline Frawley, have been major bright spots, collectively going 14-5 through last week.

On the doubles side, Buehler has continued to “platoon” his top two doubles teams, so the tandems of Cassidy Dixon and Maria Galvan, and Claire Buehler and Stevie Walker have alternated between the top and second spots. Suzanne Backous and Sarah Dixon have been locked into the third spot, while several players have rotated into the varsity lineup at fourth doubles.

In addition to Nyamu and Vega, T.J. Buehler envisions a scenario in which his top two doubles teams could threaten for state spots.

“For those two doubles teams, they will need a combination of a good draw and will need to play at their best,” Buehler said. “And if they do that, for sure, I think they have a chance.”

Before that, though, Forest Grove has the rest of league play to get through. The Vikings’ match against McKay was rained out on Tuesday and will be made up today. Forest Grove travels to West Salem on Thursday and rounds out its GVC slate with home matches against Sprague on May 5 and South Salem on May 7.

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