Tualatin boys are taking aim at a conference championship

by: DAN BROOD - SINGLES STAR -- Sophomore Ryan Malinowski, shown here at last year's district tournament, will play at No. 1 singles for the Wolves. TUALATIN — The Tualatin High School boys tennis team is switching things up a bit this year.

Some of players who played doubles last year find themselves in singles competition this year.

And, of course, that means that some of last year’s singles competitors will be vying in doubles play this year.

And the Timberwolves are counting on everything to turn out just fine.

“Our outlook is good. We’re excited about this season,” second-year Tualatin coach Jimmy Drakos said. “We’ve got a lot of good returning players.”

One Tualatin player who won’t be making a switch this season is sophomore Ryan Malinowski. Last year, Malinowski placed fourth in singles competition at the Pacific Conference district tournament, earning him a spot in the Class 6A state tournament. He’ll play at No. 1 singles for the Wolves this season.

“He’s a very good player, and very dedicated,” Drakos said. “We expect good things from him this year.”

Junior Mitchell King, who played doubles last year, will play singles this year. Junior Spencer Hayashi, who teamed with King at last year’s district tourney, started the season in singles competition as well.

Junior Michael Rinker will also play at singles.

“We’ll be very strong in singles,” Drakos said. “Our doubles teams might have their work cut out for them. We still have a lot of players learning how to play doubles. But we’re looking to peak at the end of the year.”

At No. 1 doubles, Tualatin will have the team of junior Dahn Nguyen and senior Tyler Snyder. Nguyen played singles for the Wolves last year.

At No. 2 doubles, Tualatin has senior Josh Olson and sophomore Davis Loen. The combination of juniors Jared Welter and Brant Gehrs will be at No. 3 doubles and the team of sophomores Justin Dowd and Dakota Steppe will be at No. 4 doubles for the Wolves.

“We’ve got a good mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores,” Drakos said. “And we’ve got a big JV squad.”

Drakos also added former West Linn High School and Boise State University tennis standout Steve Robertson as an assistant coach this year.

It all adds up to what Drakos hopes will be a banner year for the Wolves.

“Our goal this year, and every year, is to win the district title and do well at state,” he said.

Tualatin got off to a strong start to the season, going 3-1 in its first two matches. The Wolves also were victorious in their first two Pacific Conference matches, besting Forest Grove and Hillsboro.

The Wolves will be home to play Tigard today (Thursday).

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