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Lions tennis team moving up in NWOC

Squad returns 12 with varsity experience from last season
by: John Brewington SERVICE—St. Helens’ Cole Charbonneau serves a ball during last Friday’s match with Sherwood. The match was the first of the season for the Lions who figure to be in the top three of the Northwest Oregon Conference this season.

The St. Helens High boys' tennis team feels they have moved into the upper echelons of the Northwest Oregon Conference and should be in contention for the top three this year.

Fourth-year Coach Don Courtain likes what he is seeing so far, but like all spring sports in the Pacific Northwest this year, is having trouble getting outside-court time.

'I've enjoyed our other teams, but I think these kids are paying attention and trying to play the best tennis they can. Some of these are now kids I've worked with all four years, so that helps. These kids are trying to learn tennis,' Courtain said.

The coach said last year's No. 1 player, his son Kevin Courtain, graduated, but that he has a number of players stepping up.

Cole Charbonneau, now a senior, became the first tennis player in school history to earn a 5A state playoff berth with a big upset in the quarterfinal rounds last spring.

He moves into the No. 1 singles slot for the Lions.

St. Helens got off their first match of the year on Friday, losing to Sherwood, 3-5.

Starting in that match at singles were Caleb Johnson (junior), Ryan Jensen (sophomore), and Matthieu Galizia (freshman). Tavin Boynton, a junior, was away on a college visitation and will slip in to the No. 2 slot when he returns. Against Sherwood, Charbonneau was the only Lions singles player to win, but Galizia took his match to three sets.

Most of the doubles players are seniors. They include: Haven McAlpine and Michael Crandall, Kyle Roby and Will Charbonneau (Cole's twin brother), Coughlin Cody and Avery Aldrich, and Shane Cooke and Gage Degraffenreid (freshman).

The Roby-Charbonneau and Cody-Aldrich teams posted the other two wins for the Lions.

'Some of these kids played in summer league,' Courtain noted. 'That really does help. Haven (McAlpine) and Michael Crandall played summer league, and Caleb Johnson played a lot over the summer. Those kids that think they can just come out in the spring and work on it don't (do quite as well).'

The coach sees Wilsonville and Sherwood as the top leaders in the league, but feels St. Helens is ready to join them as one of the top three.

While the team lost to Sherwood on Friday, Courtain noted that they have only had limited time out on the court due to weather.

'We've only had three decent days of getting on the court,' he said. 'There's no way of duplicating that (experience) in the gym.'

Once the team gets more practice under their belts, Courtain thinks they will be hard to beat.

'Last night we lost 3-5 to Sherwood, but there were really close matches. There is no doubt in my mind that we can beat them,' he said.

St. Helens was to travel to Wilsonville on Tuesday for another wet match, but whether it could be played depended on a rain break.

Courtain said he got into tennis after playing through high school and then at college at the University of Oregon. He continued playing and taught his son, Kevin. Then St. Helens coach Dr. Gary Loosli asked Kevin who had trained him and he said it was his father. Courtain assisted for a year, and then took over the reins as head coach.

Match results:

Sherwood 5, St. Helens 3

Singles-1) Cole Charbonneau (SH) def. Alec Blomquest (Sh), 6-4, 2-6, 6-1); 2) Isaac Marshall (Sh) def. Caleb Johnstun (SH), 6-0, 6-0; 3) Dankl Mclesky (SH) def. Ryan Jensen (SH), 6-1, 6-2; 4) Collin Christensen (Sh) def. Matthieu Galizia (SH), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Doubles-1) Grant Mcboghlin-Alec Wisthoff (Sh) def. Haven McAlpine-Michael Crandall (SH), 6-4, 6-3; 2) Kyle Roby-Will Charbonneau (SH) dec. Colten Beher-Alex Costands (Sh), 6-3, 6-4; 3) Coughlin Cody-Avery Aldrich (SH) def. Derek Lafave-Kaelien Clendenon (Sh), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; 4) Jack Tolktson-Hunter Odell (Sh) dec. Shane Cooke-Gage Degraffenreid (SH), 6-2, 6-1.

New court surface slated in future

The St. Helens boys' and girls' tennis teams are working with the St. Helens Sports Boosters to try and resurface the six courts at St. Helens High School.

The Boosters have started the fund with $10,000 of the $150,000-$160,000 needed to resurface the courts.

Boys' tennis Coach Don Courtain said they were working into applying for some grants, planned to approach the city, and would work on a fundraiser.

Resurfacing the courts will be a focus at the 'Lite Up the Night' Auction on April 28 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

Courtain noted that the public uses the courts extensively during the season. He said anyone wishing to contribute to the project could do so through the Sports Boosters.

'We know it will take awhile,' he said. 'Our goal is to have it done by the time this year's freshmen class graduates.'