Girls tennis: Sidney Lowry routs field en route to league title
In her first two and a half seasons, Wilsonville singles player Sidney Lowry accomplished most of what the high school tennis landscape has to offer.
Lowry qualified for state twice, won a district title, went undefeated during the regular season and reached the state quarterfinals.
Yet, due to her opponent suffering an illness before the final match last year, she had never actually played in a district final.
That is, until Wednesday, May 10.
Lowry suffered from early match jitters and played cautiously, but shook off nerves and finished the match with a dominant 6-0, 6-0 victory over La Salle's Rachel Primack to earn her second consecutive district title.
In all, the Wilsonville girls tennis team placed second in the district, behind Sandy, while Lowry and singles player Samantha Monello qualified for state.
But Lowry and Monello weren't exactly on an inevitable collision course toward the district semifinals.
While Lowry cruised to 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-0 victories over overmatched opponents in her first three matches, Monello had to defeat the No. 4 seed just to make it out of the first round.
But the Wilsonville junior pulled off the upset — winning 6-4, 6-0. Monello then went on to win her next matches 6-1, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-2 to qualify for state for the first time in her career.
"I played the fourth seed last year and I beat her so I went in thinking maybe I had a chance and then the first set was pretty tough and the second set was pretty easy. I was surprised by the second and third matches," Monello said.
As seems to be the case every year, two Wilsonville players met in the final rounds of the district tournament. In 2014, Haley Moss and Keely Petticord met in the district finals. In 2015, Moss, Petticord, Lowry and Maddy Kunstel all reached the district finals; and in 2016, Lowry and Petticord both reached the district finals.
Lowry and Monello seemed to enjoy playing each other early on but the match became more competitive as it progressed.
"It was interesting. It started off very goofy. I was just laughing about it and then it kind of got serious. I was really frustrated because I wasn't playing well and she was playing really well," Monello said.
While Monello's consistency from the baseline served her well in all of her other matches at districts, Lowry's pure power and accuracy overwhelmed in the semifinals.
Lowry won the match 6-0, 6-1.
"It was a little hard because we're friends but I had to block that out and treat her as another competitor," Lowry said.
Lowry, though, was happy to see her teammate qualify for state.
"It was pretty cool. This is her first time going to state so I'm super happy for her," she said.
Lowry admits she was a bit nervous in the first few games of the district finals but says she loosened up as the match progressed and the score disparity widened.
She adeptly outlasted Primack in the first few games but took more calculated risks as the match progressed and accumulated more clean winners.
"I was definetly nervous for the first three games and then I finally started hitting out on the ball and hitting harder. Toward the end I was definitely super comfortable," Lowry said.
Up 3-0 in the second set, one of her coaches had a message for her: "He was telling me to smile and have fun and just to relax."
So Lowry soaked in the second set and gestured a flurry of emphatic fist pumps following the final point.
After winning all of her regular season matches and the district tournament, Lowry will face stout competition at the state tournament. She will meet Churchill's Naomi Collins in the first round and could face No. 3 seed Autumn Layden of Summit in round two.
In 2016, Lowry won her opening round match before losing to Corvallis No. 2 seed Anna Kern in the quarterfinals.
In the offseason, Lowry developed her offensive game and currently smacks the ball more forcefully than ever.
"I worked on hitting the ball deeper so they don't have the opportunity to hit the ball hard and also I'm trying to be offensive before they can," Lowry said.
She hopes to improve upon her 2016 state tournament performance.
I want to do well this year — better than last year," she said.
Following the semifinals match, Monello was entrenched in a marathon three-setter with Smith of La Salle. She won the first set 7-6 and lost the second set 6-4 in a match featuring dizzying rallies.
"I had better placement in that match. I was just more confident and I went up to the net a lot more. I was more mentally strong than she was I think and she had just played a very long match," Monello said.
Up 30-love and 5-4 in the third set, Monello hit a powerful serve and a clean winner to clinch the match and third place in league.
"(My coach) just said get the four points and be done and that is what I was trying to do," Monello said.
Monello watched the state tournament last year but will participate this time around. She will face Kern, the No. 1 seed, in the opening round.
"I've heard it's very different than this so I'm excited to see what it's like," she said.
Wilsonville delivered myriad notable performances beyond the state qualifiers.
Wilsonville's No. 1 doubles team of Kara Rule and Camille Rule, who earned the No. 3 seed, reached the district quarterfinals with 6-2, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-0 victories in the first two rounds. Then, they lost to a Sandy doubles team 6-2, 6-1 in the district quarterfinals.
Leah Tate and Grace Love joined the Rules in the quarterfinals after achieving 7-5, 6-3, 7-5, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-4 victories in the first three rounds. They lost to Sandy, which sent four doubles teams to state, 6-2, 7-5 in the district quarterfinals. Madeleine Klein, who played both No. 2 and No. 3 singles this year, won her first round match 7-5, 6-2 and her second round match 6-0, 6-1 before losing to Primack 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
Also, Elle Berry and Athena Lackides won the district tournament consolation bracket via 8-2, 8-3, 8-5 and 7-5, 6-1 victories in consolation rounds. Tess Pritchett and Sophia Bynum won two matches at the district tournament and reached the round of 16 while singles player Alex Gowen reached the second round of the tournament.