Nicole Janes and Bella Koessler are shining in their senior season

by: DAN BROOD - TEAMING UP -- Tualatin High School seniors Nicole Janes (right) and Bella Koessler combined to get a 6-4, 6-4 win in No. 1 doubles play in last week's match with Newberg. TUALATIN — Last year, as Tualatin High School juniors, Nicole Janes and Bella Koessler finished their tennis season in spectacular fashion, reaching the quarterfinal round in doubles play at the Class 6A state tournament.

This year, as Timberwolf seniors, Janes and Koessler are back playing doubles again.

And that’s not the only thing that hasn’t changed.

They’re still excelling as a doubles duo and they still seem to have a good time on the court.

“We try to have fun,” Janes said with a smile after she and Koessler scored a 6-4, 6-4 win over Newberg’s Julia Hamilton and Maddie Wiltshire in a No. 1 singles match played last Thursday. “And we’re good friends.”

“We have a good relationship and I think we balance each other pretty good,” Koessler added.

With their victory in the No. 1 doubles match, Janes and Koessler helped the Timberwolves score a 7-1 win over Newberg in the match played at Tualatin High School.

Newberg fell to 7-3 in league matches with the setback. Tualatin improved to 10-0 at that point with the victory, putting the Wolves three matches ahead of McMinnville and Newberg, who were tied for second place at that point.

“We’ve got a really strong team this year,” Koessler said.

“And we’re really deep,” Janes added.

And the team of Janes and Koessler, teaming up for the third straight year, leads the way for Tualatin’s deep group of doubles teams. And the two seniors have high hopes for the season.

“We want to win at district,” Koessler said.

“And then we want to get as far as we can at state,” Janes said. “Maybe the quarterfinals again.”

Janes and Koessler found plenty of competition in last week’s match with Newberg’s Hamilton and Wiltshire.

The Tualatin duo jumped out to a 3-1 lead to open the first set, but the Tiger team came back to tie the score at 3-3. The opening set was still tied, at 4-4, but Janes and Koessler won the final two games of the set to get a 6-4 victory.

Janes and Koessler then claimed a 2-1 lead early in the second set, but Hamilton and Wiltshire won the next two games to take a 3-2 advantage.

That seemed to motivate Janes and Koessler.

“We don’t like being behind,” Koessler said.

And she knew just how to loosen up her teammate when the pressure was on.

“She told me a joke,” Janes said.

Be it a joke or the motivation from being behind, Janes and Koessler came storming back. The Tualatin duo won four of the next five games to wrap up the 6-4, 6-4 victory.

“We weren’t playing our best, but we stayed with it,” Janes said.

The Timberwolves also swept the other three doubles matches in straight sets. At No. 2 doubles, the Tualatin team of Maddie Meade and Alisha Inkens scored a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Martinez and Page Serritt.

In the No. 3 doubles contest, Tualatin’s Debbie Kim and Riley Steele notched a 6-3 6-2 victory over Ashley Thompson and Kaylee Puttullo. In the No. 4 doubles match, Tualatin’s Jill Irvine and Kayla O’Brien got a 6-4, 6-1 win against Alenka Beralas and Rachel Lindquist.

In the No. 1 singles contest, Tualatin senior Mollie Freel got a 6-0, 6-2 win over Newberg’s Courtney Burnett.

Taylor Barnes, moving up to the No. 2 singles spot for the match, got a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Sam Russo. Tualatin’s other win came at No. 4 singles, where Audrey Depaepe got a 6-3, 6-3 win over Delaney Spellman.

In the No. 3 singles match, Newberg’s Kasie Grove edged Sarah Lemieux by a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 score.

The Tualatin girls followed up the win over Newberg with a strong performance at the Bend Invitational, held Friday and Saturday.

The Wolves opened the 16-team, dual match tournament by scoring a 5-3 victory over Oregon Episcopal School. In the quarterfinals, Tualatin edged Central Catholic 4-4 (9-8 in sets) to advance to the semifinal round.

In the semifinals, Tualatin got a dramatic 5-3 win over Bend. In that contest, four of the eight matches went to super tiebreakers, with the Wolves coming out on top in all four of those matches. Lemieux, Steele, Depaepe, Irvine, O’Brien, Hailey Muller and Alex Rose were all involved in those super tiebreaker victories. With that win, the Wolves, who have participated in the tournament the past 12 years, earned their first trip to the finals.

In the championship match, Tualatin fell 6-2 to Jesuit.

“Overall, the experience was fantastic, with a great deal of high-level tennis,” Tualatin coach Doug Rostron said. “I could not be more proud of not only how our girls played, but the way they carried themselves and represented Tualatin High School in the best light possible.”

Tualatin picked up another league win on Tuesday when they posted a 7-1 victory over rival Tigard in a match held at Tigard High School.

The Wolves will be back in action today (Thursday) when they host McMinnville in a league match set to start at 4 p.m. at Tualatin High School. On Monday, Tualatin will face Century in a match starting at 4 p.m. at the 53rd Ave. courts in Hillsboro.

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