Molalla girls tennis competes at state
Molalla's girls' tennis team finished out their season last weekend at the state tournament in Corvallis at the Oregon State University tennis complex.
Country Christian junior Mollie Lewandowski entered the meet after winning the district tournament a week earlier. She faced Hidden Valley's Sylvia Marr in the first round on May 19 and won in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to move on to the quarterfinals.
"Mollie played, as usual, very steady," head coach Mike Clarke said. "The problem was that she got one good first round draw and then she ends up with a fireball of a girl in the second round, when three other girls from the second round Mollie could've advanced easily through them."
Lewandowski took on no. 3 seed freshman Courtlyn Lam from Klamath Union and fell 6-1, 6-0; Lam was the eventual third-place finisher in state.
"Mollie is just an outstanding player, outstanding young lady, she does everything you could ask for," Clarke said. "[Lam] was a very powerful and strong player; Mollie played well against her, but you just meet some of those girls sometimes who play year round," he said. Lewandowski was voted Most Valuable Player at the team's annual banquet.
Seniors Rachel Norgren and Jessa Donaldson entered the state tournament after taking second at districts the week prior, and they were unable to make it out of the first round as they fell to the no. 3 seed team of Anna Sipowicz and Jennifer Lee of Oregon Episcopal School 6-1, 6-4. Despite the loss, Clarke said they were proud of the way they played along with making it to the state tournament.
"They played one of their best matches; they played the number three seed right away, but they said they felt happy about the way they played, and that they played as well as they could have," Clarke said. "I was happy to see the smiles on their faces."
Senior Juliann Jones nearly qualified for the tournament due to an injury withdrawal from another player, but the withdrawal came too late and Jones was unable to take her spot. Clarke said he was not happy about that turn of events.
"The girl that beat her sprained her ankle at districts against Juliann, but she had already qualified for state," Clarke said. "She withdrew at the last second and it would've given Juliann her spot." Clark said the deadline to withdraw was the Wednesday before the meet, but the team waited until Thursday, so it was too late for Jones to take her spot. Jones was voted Most Inspirational by her teammates. In addition, Most Improved was awarded to three players: Jillia Mead, Rayesa Efima, and Mackenzie Raihala.
"We had a great group of seniors we're going to miss," Clarke said. "We had an all-around great team and we still have two out of four singles coming back (Marina Daniels and Lewandowski), and two doubles teams coming back with a third in Rayesa and Bryana Brinkman. So we'll have three strong doubles teams and so many freshman doubles teams that are incredible right now."
Clarke said he expects another 30 to 35 girls on next year's squad.
"I think we had a great season," he said. "I don't look at these losses, I look at what we did all year and the young girls coming up have a lot of playing time, so they'll come in with a lot of experience."
Clarke said he looks forward to the girls' summer tennis camp that will occur in the last week of June. More details will follow.
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