Girls tennis is deep at both singles and doubles this season

by: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Senior Itzel Romero tops the list of Madras singles players this season.The fact that the Madras High girls tennis team did not have anyone participate in the state tournament last year doesn’t really sit well with anyone. Coach Dave Jordan and a group of feisty seniors are determined to change that.

They got to work on that two weeks ago as spring practices across the state of Oregon began. But in Madras, there is a deeper desire to take this program up a notch. And it all comes from within.

“It’s always the goal to get somebody to state,” Jordan said. “We have a chance this year but it’s going to be an outside chance.”

The Tri-Valley Conference is top heavy in girls tennis with La Salle and Cascade and just finishing in the top four at the district meet is tough. But the Bulldogs may have an advantage this year.

They are senior heavy.

“Some of us have been playing since freshman year, so we’re looking good,” senior Wendy Galan said. “The goal is to get to state; that’s what we all want.”

The Buffs have experience up and down the lineup; they just haven’t been able to put it all together quite yet. But that could change this year.

With Galan and Lorena Alonso entering their third year as doubles partners, they offer the team one of its better chances of advancing to state.

Along with that duo are Amanda and Maria Olivera, who will push for the top doubles seed, while the tandems of Jessica Alavez and Jazmine Ike-Lopez and Melissa and Stephanie Olivera will also hold spots on the varsity lineup.

With four doubles tandems needed to fill the lineup card for each match, there will be plenty of competition in-house as teams vie for spots.

“We’ve seen a lot of improvement (from last year),” Jordan said. “The girls are a lot stronger.”

While the doubles teams are falling into place, the strength of the Buffs may be in its singles play.

Seniors Itzel Romero and Megan Forristall headline a talented group that is determined to make the season last as long as they can.

Forristall was the Bulldogs’ No. 2 singles player last year and she wants to build on that. She advanced deep into the district tournament last spring, but fell short of her top goal of state, something she hopes to change this time.

“Hopefully, I can play my best and get to state this year,” Forristall said. “Jordan has talked to me a lot about districts and working hard and putting in the effort to get there. So I think about those goals.”

Romero and Forristall seem to have a lock on the Buffs’ top two spots, while Jessica Gonzalez and Pali Kaloi Jordan will round out the top four. It is a foursome that could do some damage this year.

“We have so many seniors and juniors on this team, I think we can be strong,” Romero said.

Forristall and Romero have been working together a lot, be it before or after practice, to achieve their goals. Baseline shot making has been an area of concern.

Romero said getting the opponent to move around has been something they have been working on.

“I think a lot of people have showed tremendous improvement since the end of last season,” Forristall said. “As a team, I think we can do well.

“Individually, we have the ability and the mindset that we know where we want to go,” Forristall said. “We’re putting in the work to get there.”

Jordan said he is confident in his top four singles players and expects to win a lot of the 2-3-4 matches because of his team’s depth. Getting wins at No. 1 will be tough because of the quality of the TVC, but Romero or Forristall will be able to hang and could pull off some wins.

Those two should be solid in their positions while the rest of the singles lineup could change. Jordan said he doesn’t set the lineup; the girls do that through weekly challenges.

So he expects good competition between the bottom two and the JV's top two throughout the season.

Jordan said the doubles’ lineup has already flip-flopped around during the first two weeks of practice and he expects that to continue.

“The doubles are a lot more even,” Jordan said. “They are so evenly matched, it will be a fun year. I’m looking forward to it.”

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