Barlow boys try for a fourth straight tennis title
- David Ball
- Gresham Outlook - Sports
BOYS TENNIS - Bruins return their top two singles players
The Mount Hood Conference boys tennis race is shaping up as a repeat of last season with three-time defending champion Barlow trying to hold off challenges by Central Catholic and David Douglas. The Bruins return three state qualifiers from last year's undefeated team, while Central Catholic graduated its top doubles players and David Douglas graduated its top singles player.
'We've had a lot of players put in time during the off-season, and I feel like we have a deeper team this year,' Barlow coach Andrew Pate said. 'Still, it remains to be seen how we compete at the top.'
Barlow beat Central Catholic 5-3 in the regular-season finale last season and beat the Rams by four points at the district tournament.
Central Catholic will try to flip-flop places with the Bruins behind a singles lineup that returns all four of its players. Junior Ben Summers leads that group after reaching the district quarterfinals in 2006, while teammates Brennan Lowes and Robby Hicks also picked up district wins. Junior Peter Brown won the district doubles title last season, but will have to repeat the feat with a new partner this year after the graduation of Brian White.
Following are previews of the five local teams:
- BARLOW -
The Bruins return a solid 1-2 combo at the top of its singles lineup with junior Kevin Sayson and senior David Strickland. The teammates met in last year's district semifinals with Sayson ultimately taking second at the tournament, while Strickland finished fourth.
'They're good friends, and they spend a lot of time hitting together during the off-season,' Bruins' coach Andrew Pate said. 'They have both improved their serves, and they are better at finishing shots at the net.'
Seniors Andy Frashour and Kyle Hansen will join forces in doubles this season after seeing their partners from last year graduate. Frashour advanced to the district semifinals last year, while Hansen won a first-round doubles bout.
- GRESHAM -
The Gophers are relying on some new faces to fill its varsity squad this spring with a couple freshmen expected to crack the lineup and a first-year tandem leading the doubles crew.
Senior Travis Dorn (basketball) and junior Daniel Gilbertson (football) are standouts in other sports for the Gophers, but are trying tennis for the first time this year. They opened the nonleague season with success in the team's No. 4 spot, but are expected to rise to the No. 1 or 2 spot when the Mount Hood season begins.
'They're just good athletes. They have good hand-eye coordination, and they're going to get a lot of balls back,' Gophers' coach Todd Nagel said. 'The most important thing is just that they know how to go out and compete. They can will themselves to win those big points.'
Junior Justin Chea is the only returning player to win a district match, and he will move up a spot to the No. 1 singles position this season.
- CENTENNIAL -
Senior Scott Uyeda returns in the Eagles' top singles spot. He put together a solid season last year to earn the No. 1 seed into the district tournament only to be upset in the second round.
'His goal is to reach state, and he's been working hard to make the most of his last opportunity,' Centennial coach Mick Nelson said. 'He's good at changing things up during the match. He can find the weakness in another player's game and focus in on that.'
Seniors Steven Beeghly and Amarich Visathep are expected to lead the doubles crew.
- REYNOLDS -
The Raiders appear to be returning all four singles players from last year's district lineup, although none of them were able to win a match in the 2006 tournament. Leading that group are seniors Troy Korum and Will Stinman, who will return to the team's top two slots.
'Troy has a big serve and he's playing with more consistency this year,' first-year coach Grant Galloway said. 'He makes sure that he gets to all the shots, and he places the ball well.'
Galloway coached the Sandy boys team for two seasons before helping with the Reynolds program last spring.
- D. DOUGLAS -
The Scots graduated defending district singles champion Andrew Persen, but appear to have a new contender in his place this spring. Senior Isaac Almada-Bauma will lead the singles charge after losing a three-set heartbreaker in the quarterfinals last season. Sophomore Wyatt Chan could also make some noise in singles action.
A full version of this preview was published in the Saturday, March 31, issue of The Outlook.