by: VERN UYETAKE Ken Tsuruta and Arthur To are the defending district doubles champions and anchor a strong doubles corps for the Lions this year.

The West Linn boys tennis team has won at least a share of the Three Rivers League championship in six of the past seven years. The goal for this year's squad is to continue that success.

And while the Lions certainly have the talent to accomplish that goal, returning the majority of their squad from last year which finished in a three-way tie with Lake Oswego and Lakeridge atop the TRL, the team faces new obstacles this spring with the additions of Grant and Canby to the schedule.

'It's a different world with those two teams coming in. I think there will be very good parity this year but we're heading into uncharted waters' coach Ward Lewis said.

West Linn returns the defending district doubles champions in Arthur To and Ken Tsuruta. Those players are also team captains and anchor what promises to be a very strong doubles contingent this year.

But just who will be playing where remains a mystery early in the season as the Lions haven't been able to get in many challenge matches due to the poor weather.

West Linn is blessed with plenty of experience this year with eight seniors. Along with To and Tsuruta, Chris Del Bene, Andrew Brown, Ryan Scott-Deeter, Kabir Samra, Micah Wiard and Preston Rattle will provide the Lions with leadership.

West Linn also returns No. 1 singles player Ian Risenhoover who is a ranked player in the Northwest.

'He's a real fighter and has tremendous technique,' Lewis said.

Juniors Jon Macemon, Anthony To and Thomas Ward will also be strong players for the Lions this year along with a young doubles team of Craig Wright and Mitch Tingey.

The challenge for Lewis now is to figure out what combinations work well together in doubles and who is more suited for singles. And there won't be much time to sort out the line-up.

All of the team's preseason matches have been rained out and even getting on the courts for practice has been difficult.

'We just want to play. There's pretty good depth, it's a matter of figuring out our most competitive line-up,' Lewis said.

If the weather holds up, the Lions are scheduled to play Lakeridge this Friday.

'We've always been a team that has a tendency to start slowly and then outwork other people. It's going to be a dogfight but this is group should be up for the challenge,' Lewis said.

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