He considered a return to his alma mater, but he is enjoying success in his fourth year with the Wildcats.

by: CHS YEARBOOK PHOTO - Matt Snyder (back row, third from right), shown as a senior on the 2000 edition of the Canby boys tennis team, is now in his fourth year as head coach of the Wilsonville program.Matt Snyder was highly intrigued by the opportunity.

Canby High School was in need of a replacement for Dan Nugent at the helm of its boys tennis program, and the Wilsonville coach was seriously considering the chance to return to his alma mater.

“I almost pulled the trigger,” he said as Wilsonville hosted the Cougars in preseason play March 18. “But the talent we had coming back — I didn’t want to walk away from that. We’ve got a good chance to go undefeated in league this year.”

The recent Canby-Wilsonville clash served as a platform for Snyder, who graduated from CHS in 2000, to reflect on his career in tennis and expound on his optimism for this year’s Wildcats.

Snyder, who studied history and Spanish at Oregon State while playing on the university’s club tennis team, is in his seventh year with Wilsonville’s boys tennis program — his fourth as the head coach — after a short stint with Glencoe’s girls.

He believes the 2014 roster has the potential to be the most successful one he’s ever mentored.

“We have a deeper and more athletic team than I have ever had the chance to coach,” he said, “and I personally am really looking forward to the season and striving towards our team goals of a league and district tourney championship.”

Snyder recalled with agony his senior season at Canby under then-coach Myra Brown, when he and his doubles partner missed out on qualifying for the state tournament despite entering the district championships with the No. 3 seed.

“We got beat by two singles players,” he said.

As a coach, Snyder has helped his athletes avoid similar frustration. Wilsonville has produced a state-qualifying doubles pair every year since he took the reins of the program from Joel DeBruhl in 2011.

Myles Sorokovsky and Cameron Tonning accomplished the feat in 2011. Blake Milliken and Brody Verona did it in 2012. Eidy Bambang and Ben Traffas extended the streak last year.

Snyder thinks this season’s Wildcats could be represented by multiple doubles pairs at the Class 5A championships.

“I’m excited about our doubles in general,” Snyder said. “We have a very deep lineup. I don’t think we’ll lose a (court) 3, 4 or 5 doubles match all year.”

Returning seniors Husam Zaidan and Garrett Wright currently own the No. 1 position and, according to Snyder, have a chance to be the top pair in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Fellow seniors Ben Scott and Mikael Karlsson hold the No. 2 spot. Scott earned second-team all-league honors in singles last year, but Snyder said his chances of advancing to the OSAA tournament are better in doubles. Carlson also has singles experience.

“They’ve played our number-one doubles team, and it’s always close,” Snyder said.

Wildcats sophomore Quinn Everts and senior Austin Miller played at No. 3 doubles against Canby. Everts went 11-2 last year, mostly on the No. 4 court, while Miller is a new member of the team.

“We have quite a few new additions that I was not anticipating,” Snyder said.

Experienced freshman Aidan Green and sophomore Alex Molisani defeated the Cougars at No. 4 doubles. Molisani and teammate Bricker Like, who has also returned, won the consolation finals at last year’s district doubles tournament.

Wilsonville’s singles lineup features a freshman, Kyle Andrews, at No. 1 for the first time in Snyder’s coaching career.

“He’s very consistent,” Snyder said. “He’s got very good overall knowledge of the game, he’s played quite a bit as a youth and he’s put in a lot of time. He’s got some things to develop, but he’s got a lot of potential.”

Wildcats juniors Sam Laurin, Kody Wilde and Sam Gomez filled the three other singles slots against Canby. Laurin and Gomez were both in the program last year. Wilde transferred from Kuna High School in Idaho.

Snyder’s team is vying for a league title after taking second place behind Liberty with a 10-2 record last season.

The program’s success so far — it defeated the Cougars 6-2 and topped West Salem 7-1 in its first two matches — reminds Snyder why he decided to continue coaching the Wildcats.

But he credits his pursuit of a coaching career to the support of coaches during his playing days at Canby, where Kevin Vedder now oversees the boys tennis program.

“That was the most fun I’ve ever had in sports,” Snyder said of his time under former coach Jim Avino. “He was the one who really encouraged me to do this.”

These days, Snyder does the encouraging. After the first set of No. 2 doubles competition, which the Wildcats won handily, Snyder was approached by Scott for feedback.

“Keep it rolling,” Snyder said.

Which is exactly what he’s been able to do at Wilsonville.

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