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Newberg duo makes quarterfinals


6A boys tennis — Aidan Thillmann and Barry Vernon mark their place in Tigers tennis history with second-round win at state championships

BEAVERTON — As one of the smaller players on the state stage, Newberg hasn’t often enjoyed the benefit of the doubt when it comes to draws at the 6A state tennis tournament. by: SETH GORDON - Right back at ya' - Newberg senior Barry Vernon returns serve during the 6A boys state tournament May 22 at the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center. He and partner Aidan Thillmann beat South Salem's Austin Benage and Noah Webster 4-6-6-1, 6-1 to advance to the state quarterfinals.

That wasn’t the case this year, as Pacific Conference champions Aidan Thillmann and Barry Vernon not only received a first-round bye, but were set to be favorites no matter who they faced in the second round.

The pair of seniors did not waste their opportunity, rebounding from a lackluster first set to defeat South Salem’s Austin Benage and Noah Webster 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 Thursday at the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center to become the first team from Newberg to advance to quarterfinals of the boys bracket in recent memory, perhaps even school history.

Thillmann and Vernon could not withstand No. 3-seeded Alejandro Centurion and Tommy Mulflur of Jesuit, who ended their run with a 6-0, 6-1 defeat.

The Tigers’ second-round win came with four team points to put Newberg into a three-way tie for 11th, also a best for the program. The Crusaders, on the other hand, set a new record with their seventh consecutive state title.

The No. 4 qualifier from the Central Valley Conference, Benage and Webster defeated Barlow’s Haerter and Ardeleanu 6-0, 7-5 in the opening round.

The pair took advantage of some early miscues by Thillmann and Vernon, who appeared to be pressing too much in the first set and were hitting the ball out too much.

The Newberg duo broke their opponents’ serve in the opening game and were up 40-love on Thillmann’s serve, but could not close out the game.

The Tigers worked hard to take a 4-3 lead, but lost the last three games to drop the first set.

Thillmann and Vernon then settled into a rhythm in the second set and never reverted.