The Canby girls tennis team experienced an exciting first day of districts.
The Cougars went 4-2, held the third spot in league and won a couple of dramatic doubles matches. Though lightening didn't strike again the rest of the tournament, the Cougars still put forth a solid showing in the Three Rivers League district tournament May 15-17 at Portland Tennis Center.
The Cougars placed seventh in league while head coach Natalee Evans was named the Three Rivers League Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Evans was surprised that in a nine-team league the coaches decided to give her the award again this year. But she says the award is a testament to the strides the program has forged over the last two seasons.
"I think every year our team is getting better and better," she said.
After earning the district tournament No. 2 seed as a sophomore in 2016, Canby No. 1 singles player Diana Krishchenko struggled during the regular season this year. Yet, she played her best when the matches mattered most.
The Canby junior beat Tigard's Natalie Spang 6-1, 6-1 in the first round and then earned a hard-fought 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 victory over Tualatin's Autumn Lewis, a player who beat her during the regular season, in the second round. Krishchenko then lost to Lake Oswego's Bo-Bee Yu 6-1, 6-1 in the district quarterfinals.
"D had the best tournament she's had. She really wanted to win. It was a really tough win. It went all the way to the third set and she pulled it out. She was really offensive and really put pressure on Autumn. Her serves were good too," Evans said.
Hannah Myers, who excelled at No. 2 singles this season and could have garnered the sixth seed at the district tournament, also won her first round match but lost in the second round. Myers beat Tualatin's Emily Anasis 6-1, 6-1 and lost to Tigard's Nicole Mazzeo 6-2, 6-1. Myers received Honorable Mention All-League honors.
"She had the best season of anyone on our team," Evans said.
Claire Wright, who also received Honorable Mention All-League honors, lost her first round match but subsequently won three consecutive consolation round victories and placed second in the consolation bracket.
"Claire Wright did amazing. She battled so hard. She did not give up the offensive play. She just kept pushing and pushing," Evans said.
Like Krishchenko, Canby's doubles team of Emily Bennett and Josie Warren played their best tennis at the district tournament.
The duo lost the opening set of their first round match against Peyton Schult and Madeleine Schult of Lake Oswego but won the second set 6-4 and the tiebreaker 10-6.
"I had never seen them serve so well and hit their forehands so hard. It was awesome to watch," Evans said.
And they even nearly pulled off a set victory against No. 3 seed Sophie Quising and Maria Quising of St. Mary's, taking a 5-2 lead in the second set, but lost 6-2, 7-5.
"They were more offensive and trying to finish instead of letting points go long," Evans said.
Canby's doubles team of Arika Evans and Cassidy Lowry also pulled off a dramatic first round victory – beating Tualatin's Noelle Emery and Denise Maxim 6-7, 7-5, 10-7.
"Arika and Cassidy were tenacious at the net. They were getting every ball in the back and played really well together. They just really meshed to beat a really tough Tualatin team," Evans said.
Excitement permeated the air as the girls pulled off four first round victories.
"They were stoked. The whole team, even for the two that lost, they were excited for the ones that won," Evans said.