The girls tennis team looks to match last years record season

It won’t be easy for the Sandy girls’ tennis team to match the success it had a year ago, but this season’s group of Pioneers certainly has the potential and experience to do it.

Sandy had its best finish in school history in 2013 as it finished second to Sherwood in the Northwest Oregon Conference. The Pioneers had to pull off a huge upset at Wilsonville to earn the school’s first top-two finish.

The Pioneers also set a high precedent for winning on an individual level. Sandy put two singles players into the state tournament – Hailey Fischer and Christan Schlaht – for the first time ever. The Pioneers saw quality tennis from several other players as well.

The success of last season showed that Sandy is moving to become a force in future years. In the immediate future, the Pioneers have a chance to contend now because they return almost everyone who contributed last season.

At the top of that list are Fischer and Schlaht. Fischer spent last season facing the top singles players from every school as she held the No. 1 spot for Sandy. She proved early on that she was one of the top players in the conference as she won match after match, most in dominating fashion. At the district meet, Fischer advanced to the singles championship and claimed second place.

Schlaht, Fischer’s best friend, could have easily competed in the first singles slot in 2013, but she played No. 2 singles and many of her opponents didn’t come close to challenging her. At districts, Schlaht stormed through the bracket and qualified for the semifinals to earn her spot at state. She fell in the semis to the eventual district champion, but she won her consolation match to grab third-place honors.

Fischer and Schlaht were thrilled to participate at the state tournament, but they are both looking to take the next step as seniors. Both players fell to elite players at state, so this season they each hope to make it back to state and win a match.

Lindsey Shields performed admirably in the No. 3 slot for Sandy last season and will be a tough out for any of her third singles opponents. Underclassman Taylor Courtain played well in her fourth singles matches in 2013 and should win a lot of contests for the Pioneers this season.

On the doubles side, the duo of Sawyer Kurtz and Emmy Thatcher made it to the district quarterfinals a year ago. Both were named to the NWOC all-district second team, and both are back this season.

To claim another second-place finish in the district standings, Sandy will again have to get past Wilsonville. The Wildcats are always talented and beating them again will be a tall task. Sherwood is again the favorite to win the league, but the gap is narrowing between them and some of the other schools. Sherwood graduated eight players from last season’s all-NWOC first team, so it won’t have the same level of experience it has boasted in recent years.

Sandy opens the season on Friday in Walla Walla, Wash. The Pioneers begin NWOC competition on Tuesday at St. Helens.

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