6A tennis — Seniors Sam Russo and Maddie Wiltshire close their careers with appearances at state

PORTLAND — Newberg was the only Pacific Conference team to qualify players for the 6A girls state tennis tournament in both singles and doubles, but the brackets were unkind to the Tigers Thursday and Friday at the Portland Tennis Center.

Both Sam Russo and the doubles tandem of Maddie Wiltshire and Alenka Beralas finished 0-2 and were eliminated from the tournament in the first round of the consolation bracket Friday morning. by: STH GORDON - Return to sender - Newberg senior Sam Russo hits a shot during her opening round match at the 6A state championships May 22 at the Portland Tennis Center.

“We didn’t get any luck of the draw there, but overall I thought our season was good,” head coach Jon Halstead said. “The girls all played well. We finished tied for third with Tigard and were the only school in league to have a singles and a doubles team go to state. I think it shows the commitment that this group of seniors put into it, all of them.

A senior making her first appearance at state, Russo faced David Douglas senior Adina Talpos, who prevailed 6-2, 6-2 Thursday morning.

In her consolation match, Russo fell 8-0 to Katie Day of Lake Oswego, who went on to win the consolation bracket, beating Rebecca Reiser of Central Catholic 7-6 (4), 6-2.

In each of the past three seasons, Russo has stepped up a level within the hierarchy of the team and excelled. This year the challenge was playing No. 1 singles and she followed through by placing fourth at the district tournament.

“It’s a good reward for her to finally make it as a senior,” Halstead said. “When you look at the final numbers and count up all the girls playing tennis in the state at the 6A level, and you’re one of the best 24 girls in state, I think that’s a testament to how hard she’s worked in the offseason, how committed she’s been to tennis.”

Wiltshire, a senior, and Beralas, a junior, had an up-and-down season at No.1 doubles, but played solid tennis at the district tournament, where they placed third.

They ran into a buzz saw in their opening match at state, falling 6-0, 6-0 to Jesuit’s Nicole Peterson and Danielle Larner, who were the fourth-place team from the Metro League, but capped a magical run over the weekend by placing third.

Wiltshire and Beralas then ran into a familiar foe, Forest Grove’s Karimi Nyamu and Natalie Brandt, in the quarterfinals.

The Tigers had beaten the Vikings in the third-place match at districts, but the Forest Grove duo won a tight contest 8-6 and eventually bowed out in the consolation final.

“Maddie and Alenka were one of the best 24 doubles teams in the state and represented themselves really well,” Halstead said. “I look forward to putting Alenka with Rachel Lindquist next year and I think those two will go pretty far.”

Jesuit rolled to the team title with 27 points as Erin Larner won her fourth consecutive singles title and the Crusaders’ top doubles team of Darby Rosette and Meghana Rao captured the doubles crown.

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