Tualatins Mollie Freel and Eloise Loen team up and triumph at district tourney

by: DAN BROOD - TUALATIN TEAMWORK -- Tualatin High School seniors Eloise Loen (left) and Mollie Freel celebrate after scoring a point in the girls doubles championship match of the Pacific Conference district tennis tournament on Saturday.McMINNVILLE — For the most part, Mollie Freel dominated play at No. 1 singles play during the Pacific Conference tennis play.

And, for the most part, Eloise Loen had her way in No. 2 singles play during the season.

So, when the Tualatin High School seniors were surprisingly put together as a doubles team for the Pacific Conference District Tournament, it should be no surprise that they dominated.

Freel and Loen stormed to the championship in doubles play at the Pacific Conference district event, held last Thursday through Saturday at Linfield College, getting a 6-1, 6-4 win over Tigard’s Ayumi Mizuno and Courtney Roshak in the tournament championship match.

“We were so excited to play together,” Loen said following the title match. “I wanted to play doubles all year.”

“I’m so happy with it,” Freel added.

Freel and Loen will now advance to play at the Class 6A state tournament. The top four placing singles players and doubles teams from the district tournament advance to the state event, which starts today (Thursday) and runs through Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.

Freel and Loen will be joined at state by seniors Bella Koessler and Nicole Janes, who will play in doubles, and by senior Taylor Barnes, who will compete in singles play.

“I’m excited for state,” Loen said. “I’m excited for the competition and I want to see how far we can go.”

Freel and Loen are the No. 5 seed in doubles play at the state tournament and they were given a first-round bye. The Tualatin duo will open tourney play today when they meet either Sarah Shattuck and Lilli Wheary of Lincoln or Alyssa Marquardt and Hannah Nute of South Eugene in a second-round match.

“We’re looking to surprise some people,” Freel said. “It’s going to be really fun.”

Freel and Loen both already have state tournament appearance. Freel played at state in doubles competition the past two years, teaming with her older sister, Megan. Loen qualified for state last year in singles competition.

“I’m excited,” she said. “Doubles are more fun.”

So, despite playing singles all season, Freel and Loen didn’t mind moving to doubles play for district after Tualatin coach Doug Rostron came up with the idea prior to the tournament.

“I’m happy with how it turned out,” Loen said.

“I love doubles,” Freel added.

Freel and Loen have played doubles together before, back when they were freshmen, when they reached the quarterfinal round at the district event.

“And we practice together every day now,” Freel said.

“And we’re good friends,” Loen added.

Those good friends cruised through their first two matches at the district tournament. In the semifinals, the Timberwolf duo posted a 6-3, 6-1 victory over McMinnville’s Molly Olsen and Sam Purdy.

That put them in the finals against Tigard’s Mizuno and Roshak.

Freel and Loen won the first five games of the match on their way to posting a 6-1 first-set victory. In the second set, the Timberwolf duo jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 5-1.

But Mizuno and Roshak came storming back, winning the next three games to cut the second-set lead to 5-4.

But, in the 10th game of the set, Freel and Loen were able to win in deuce to put away the district championship.

“We knew we could finish it,” Loen said.

Koessler and Janes will be going to state for the second straight year. Last year, they went as the No. 3 team out of the Pacific Conference and they made it to the quarterfinal round at the state event.

“We’re looking forward to going back to state,” Koessler said. “One more week of practice.”

“For us, it’s awesome,” Janes said. “There’s no pressure.”

“We’re just going to have fun,” Koessler added.

At the district tournament, Koessler and Janes went through a marathon match against Mizuno and Roshak in the semifinals, with the Tigard team coming out on top 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3). But the Tualatin duo bounced back to beat Olsen and Purdy 6-0, 6-1 in the third-place match.

“We wanted to be in the finals,” Janes said. “But it was good that we came back.”

“We wanted it,” Koessler added.

Janes and Koessler will face Sarah Brewington and Anna Ritchie of St. Mary’s in a state tournament first-round match today.

Barnes will be making her first trip to state. She’ll be going as the No. 3 singles player from the Pacific Conference as she bested McMinnville’s Caitlian Baker in the district third-place match.

Barnes will open state tournament play today with a first-round match against Nicola Young of Sprague.

Action at the Class 6A state tournament will start at 9 a.m. each day.

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