Clackamas claims third straight Mt. Hood girls' tennis district title
When the Clackamas High School girls' tennis team made the late-season decision to pair freshman Meiling Masterson with junior Olivia Morris, the Cavaliers struck doubles gold.
Unseeded and undaunted, Masterson and Morris tore through the winner's bracket at this week's Mt. Hood Conference district championships, knocking off top-seeded Jie Tan and Lillian Truong of David Douglas 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 in Wednesday's girls' doubles final as the Cavaliers clinched a third consecutive district title at David Douglas High School.
Barlow junior Grace Maxey won the girls' singles title with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 victory over Clackamas freshman Elise Kang, who will represent the Cavaliers along with Masterson and Morris at the OSAA Class 6A tennis championships beginning Thursday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.
Morris, who qualified for state a year ago playing doubles with her older sister Taylor, started this season playing No. 2 singles, while Masterson was playing No. 3 doubles with sophomore Olivia Terveen.
Then with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Clackamas coach Satomi Tsumura wanted to pair Morris with Masterson as the No. 2 doubles team, while moving senior Nikki Kolpakov to No. 2 single, junior Sydney Huang to No. 3 singles, and Terveen to No. 4 singles.
"Satomi asked me what I felt about it, and I said, 'Let's play a match and see how it goes,'" Morris said. "After playing a few matches, we realized that we played really well together, so we decided to stick with it.
"Not a lot of partners have this close of a connect this quickly. They usually have to play a whole season to figure it out, but we were fortunate enough to figure it out pretty quick."
With only three matches under their belts leading into the district tournament, Masterson and Morris were denied a seeded position in the 32-team doubles bracket, yet still landed what they thought was an extremely fortuitous draw.
They opened the tournament by beating Reynolds' Julia Postevka and Anna Shevchenko is straight sets, and then downed Oregon City's Rylee Salvey and Hope Wallen 6-1, 6-2 in the second round.
Then they picked off No. 3-seeded Avelina Borvoskiy and Kailea Messenger of Centennial in the quarterfinal, and No. 2 seeded Sara Lee and Olivia Harms of Centennial in the semifinals.
In the finals, Masterson and Morris had their hands full with Tan and Truong,l but seized the momentum with the 8-6 win the first-set tiebreaker.
"There were a couple times where I was like, 'Oh, this is really close,' and I kind of psyched myself out a little bit," Masterson said. "But we just kept on our feet and kept encouraging one another."
Masterson and Morris had an easier time in the second set, sending Tan and Truong to their first loss of the season.
"It felt really good to win," Morris said. "The thing about our league is that there were a lot of really solid, equal teams.
"The way the seeding worked out, it was really difficult for the coaches to pick the seeds. We were all pretty equal and it feels really great to come out with a victory after being unseeded and perhaps overlooked."
The Kang-Maxey singles final featured two players who had split a pair of three-match slugfests during the regular season, so it was no surprise when Wednesday match was all knotted after two sets.
Kang, the Cavs' freshman, looked as if she had Maxey right where she wanted her after dominating the second set. Then came a series of unforced errors by Kang early in the third set as Maxey jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
"During the season, I've been down 0-4 and come back, so I knew that I could do it, but it didn't work out," Kang said. "I definitely didn't play as well as I wished I did, but Grace played well and she deserved it.
"I thought I had been playing really well in the second set and I wanted to keep things going how they had been, but that just didn't happen. I was just making mistakes that I should have been making, I wasn't playing my game, my serve went a little bit off, and that was enough."
Maxey, who had lost to Clackamas' Mariko Locke in the district finals each of the past two seasons, was thrilled to come out on top.
"It feels awesome," said Maxey, who won each of her first four district matches in straight sets. "I got to the finals the last couple of year, so I wanted to nail the first spot this time."
Clackamas wrapped up the team title after all four singles players -- Kang, Kopalkov, Huang, and Terveen -- and three of the four doubles teams advanced to Tuesday's quarterfinals.
The final team standings showed Clackamas with 62 points, followed by Barlow (45), David Douglas (42), Centennial (28), Oregon City (25), Central Catholic (21), Gresham (9) and Reynolds (5).
Maxey was recognized as the league's Player of the Year, and Barlow's Eric Stranberg and David Douglas' Bret Walker was named co-Coaches of the Year.