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Vikings pick up two more wins as conference tournament approaches

Forest Grove girls tennis team rolls to victories over McKay, West Salem

The Forest Grove girls tennis team continued its strong season last week, picking up a pair of Greater Valley Conference wins against McKay and West Salem with just one week left before the conference tournament.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD
 - Forest Grove junior Stevie Walker hits a forehand during Aher doubles match with partner Claire Buehler last Thursday against West Salem.

The Vikings traveled to Salem to face McKay last Tuesday and came home with a convincing 7-1 victory, then they turned around and hosted West Salem on Thursday for Senior Night. The Titans were game competitors, winning No. 1 singles and two doubles matches before eventually falling, 5-3.

“We beat them by the same score a couple weeks ago at their house,” Forest Grove head coach T.J. Buehler said. “It was close then and we knew it would be close again.”

The Vikings were still dealing with a few lineup changes after losing sophomore Sarah Dixon to a broken ankle two weeks ago. Dixon, who had played No. 2 singles for most of the season, went down in the first set of her match against McMinnville’s Lily Elmer, and Buehler said that x-rays revealed a fracture that will keep Dixon out of the lineup for the rest of the season.

In her stead, senior Lesley Aguilar moved up to No. 2 singles and sophomore Jacqueline Frawley bumped up to No. 3, with fellow sophomore Tania Garfias moving over from doubles to slot into the fourth singles role. Another sophomore, Riley Lindsay, will move up to pair with Katerina Neumannova at No. 4 doubles.

“She’s got a killer backhand and is more than ready for that spot,” Buehler said of Lindsay. “Losing Sarah was a tough blow, but it helps to have a little depth when you’re moving people around.”

Despite all of that shuffling around, the Vikings had little trouble with McKay last Tuesday. Forest Grove swept all four singles matches, with both Aguilar and Frawley racing to 6-0, 6-0 victories. Esther Vega was a 6-0, 6-1 winner at first singles and Vanessa Ramirez won 6-4, 6-4 while filling in for Dixon at No. 2 singles.

Forest Grove juniors Claire Buehler and Stevie Walker picked up a 6-3, 6-4 triumph at No. 1 doubles, while the No. 3 tandem of Maria Gomez and Elle Morgan were 6-3, 7-5 winners. Neumannova and Lindsay breezed to a 6-0, 6-0 win at fourth doubles to punctuate the 7-1 team victory.

“They’re typically down near the bottom of the conference, but man, they’re fun to play,” T.J. Buehler said of McKay. “Their kids and coaches are just the greatest in terms of their attitude and sportsmanship.”

Last Thursday, Buehler continued to dial in his preferred lineup with West Salem in town. The Titans got an early 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles from Anya Gerasimova, but the Vikings won the other three singles matches. Aguilar won 7-5, 6-2 at No. 2, Frawley gutted out a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 victory at No. 3, and Garfias triumphed 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4.

The No. 1 doubles squad of Walker and Claire Buehler won the first set and led 5-3 in the second before allowing Yancee Gordon and Ashley Thompson to come all the way back for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory. The Titans added another three-set win at No. 3 doubles when Emily Cross and Izza Linares prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 over Morgan and Gomez.

In the end, though, Forest Grove had more firepower, with the No. 2 duo of Rebecka Klausen and Vanessa Ramirez getting a 6-4, 6-3 win and the No. 4 squad of Neaumannova and Lindsay winning 6-2, 6-2.

“You always feel good when you go up against a tough opponents and all your wins are big and all your losses are close,” T.J. Buehler said.

The Vikings hosted Sprague on Tuesday (results were unavailable at press deadline) and will close out the regular season at home on Thursday against South Salem.