Buffs singles play starting to take off

by: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Madras senior Megan Forristall has upped her level of play and earned enough wins Saturday to finish third at No. 2 JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Itzel Romero took fifth place in No. 1 singles Saturday in the Madras Invitational, a finish she wasn't thrilled with. For the second half of the tennis season, the Madras girls have been on a roll. Saturday, they took a pseudo break to host the Madras Invitational.

There was fun to be had, but there was also an underlying feeling of determination, especially from the White Buffalos’ top two singles players.

“It was a good experience to work on stuff,” Madras senior and No. 2 singles player Megan Forristall said. “We were supposed to be playing for fun, so it’s not like you are really trying. But you are always trying your hardest. So I am happy with the way I played, for the most part.”

Crook County took the overall team title with 141 games won. Henley, Sisters, Hood River and Madras rounded out the top five.

Each team had a No. 1 and No. 2 singles player and doubles team with each of them playing seven matches in a round-robin format. Each match consisted of seven games, with the number of games won adding to the team’s overall score.

While Crook County ran away with the team title, both Forristall and Itzel Romero, playing No. 1 singles for Madras, upped their level of play as the season starts to wind down.

Forristall won four of her seven matches and scored 29 points to place third, just a point out of second place. She said it has been her level of confidence that has upped her play.

That is coming from a more aggressive attitude she has slowly been adopting.

“That’s the one thing the coaches have told me, that I need to be more aggressive and not to worry if the ball doesn’t go over the net the first time,” Forristall said. “It’s going to go over eventually; I just have to keep working at it. That’s something I’ve been working on.”

Forristall said she has been focused on ripping the ball back to opponents when the opportunity arises, and she showed that often Saturday. Instead of trying to keep the ball in play, she put balls away and won a majority of her matches by lopsided scores.

Still, the level of competition and the number of matches played will help as the district tournament and a berth at state looms, Forristall said.

“It’s just good for you to know how (the top players) play,” she said. “Just to see how they play, it’s good mentally and good physically. If they use a certain technique, maybe I should try it. It’s just good to see.”

Romero, who ended up fifth in points, was a little less satisfied with her day, but remains optimistic about the rest of the season.

“It was good and bad. There were certain matches where I played really well and then some, had I played the way I had in other matches, I think I would have gotten some more wins,” Romero said. “A little disappointing, but overall, I think I did well.”

Romero said she could see the results of many things she has been working on and feels her skill level is on par with the other girls in the field.

Overall, she said she likes where her game is at heading into the final weeks of the season.

“I always think there is room for improvement,” she said. “I’m confident that I am a good player; there are just times where I try to play it safe and not really stroke the ball and hit a good shot. I just try to get it over. I feel like if I did (rip it), I’d do a lot better.”

While his two singles players showed a lot of moxie, one disappointment to coach Dave Jordan was his No. 1 doubles tandem of Wendy Galan and Lorena Alonso, who finished up fifth with just 22 points.

The duo had been playing well as of late, including winning three matches without dropping a set last week. But they didn’t have their “A” game Saturday.

“I don’t think they woke up until their afternoon matches,” Jordan said. “They kind of sleepwalked through the morning.”

The Buffs did get a taste of third place at No. 2 doubles, though.

With just five members on its team, Crook County was a girl short for a second doubles team, so the Buffs’ Jasmine Mercado and Jessica Gonzalez took turns playing with the Cowgirls’ Maggie Kasberger and the three earned enough points to place third.

The Buffs have a busy week, playing three matches in four days as they get ready for the district tournament on May 5-6.

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