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Johnson wins singles crown, Rams take team trophy

Elizabeth Johnson of Central Catholic defeats each of her district foes in straight sets


by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Central Catholic's Elizabeth Johnson prepares to put a serve in play during her 6-4, 7-6 win over Gresham's Jessica Emoto in Wednesday's district singles final. The Central Catholic girls tennis team continued its stellar season by winning the Mount Hood Conference district tournament going away.

The Rams won the team tournament with 18 points, putting it out of reach early with a 6-0 record in first-round matches, highlighted by Erin McGinnis with a 6-1, 6-4 win over the No. 5 seed in her opener. Central finished five wins ahead of runner-up Barlow and had the team title secured before Wednesday’s semifinals got underway.

Elizabeth Johnson cruised to the singles title in a loaded bracket that featured three girls who reached the state quarterfinals last year. Johnson didn’t drop a single set, finishing her title run with a 6-4, 7-6 win over defending district champ Jessica Emoto of Gresham.

“This was really special after getting third last year to win it this time — it shows that all my work is paying off,” Johnson said.

She appeared ready to make quick work of Emoto in the finals after racing to a 5-2 lead in the second set only to see Emoto turn away a match point and come roaring back.

Emoto won four straight games and was on the verge of forcing a third set up 6-5 after charging down the centerline, pausing for a moment to disguise her shot before whipping a forehand winner into the corner.

“That was tough. There I was with a match point, then I lost four straight,” Johnson said. “I just had to stay positive and fight through it.”

Johnson won the next game to send the second set into a tiebreaker where she claimed the final four points to close out the win.

The highlight came late in the extra session when she forced the pace by taking three straight balls out of the air, allowing her to slowly move toward the net before connecting on a cross-court shot that was left untouched.

“I could see she was cramping up, so I figured if I could move her around I could win the points easier,” Johnson said.

Central Catholic also picked up big points in the doubles bracket where the duo of Megan Moran and Jackie Sheridan advanced to the title match after surviving a three-set battle against Greham’s Catrina Kwong and Aminah Khinnarath in the semifinals. After surrendering the opening game of the third set, the Rams duo reeled off six straight games to advance.

Moran and Sheridan settled for second place after falling in straight sets to top-seeded Alex Kelsey and Tai Powell of Barlow in the finals.

The 6A state tournament begins Thursday, May 16, at Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation.

View a photo gallery of the MHC district tournamant at …

http://daveball.exposuremanager.com/g/may8_mhc_district_tennis