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The Cavaliers' doubles team of Meiling Masterson and Olivia Morris repeated at district champs and Elise Kang finished second in singles

When Clackamas' Meiling Masterson and Olivia Morris felt their tennis game slipping a bit Thursday, they did what defending champions often do — they redoubled their effort.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Clackamas' Olivia Morris (left) and Meiling Masterson successfully defended their doubles title at the Mt. Hood Conference tennis championships at David Douglas High School.Masterson and Morris survived a three-set battle with Sandy's Emma Reiser and Sydney Stratton in the semifinals and then rolled to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sandy's Emma Donahue and Kaytlin Poulin to defend their girls doubles title at Thursday's Mt. Hood Conference district tennis championships at David Douglas High School.

Top-seeded Grace Maxey of Barlow won her second consecutive girls singles title with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Clackamas' Elise Kang in a rematch of last year's final, while Clackamas' Olivia Terveen finished fourth in singles in qualifying for next week's OSAA Class 6A state championships.

Clackamas singles players Katherine Perkins and Hannah Tran, and the doubles team of Sydney Huang and Michelle Lin also scored key early-round wins to help lead the Cavaliers to a fourth consecutive league team title.

The Cavaliers scored 16 district team points and clinched the overall season title with 40 points, while Sandy was second with 36, and Barlow placed third with 35.

"We lost two matches to Sandy during the regular season, which made me uncertain and a little nervous heading into district," Cavaliers coach Satomi Tsumura said. "This year was so hard, but our girls did a really great job. The whole team played a role in winning the league title."

The team race was still up for grabs when Masterson and Morris held off a strong challenge from Sandy's Reiser and Stratton in the semifinals, scoring a 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 win to advance to the finals and help lock up the team title.

"Our semifinal was a little rough," Morris said. "We didn't play our 'A' game and we lacked some confidence, but toward the end of the semifinal, we realized what we needed was energy and we needed to pump each other up.

"For the final, that was our main focus - to play with confidence and to just believe in ourselves, because we really wanted to defend our title and we knew that we could do it."

In the final, once Masterson and Morris got on a roll, there was no turning them back.

"I think we played with more confidence in the final," Masterson said. "Olivia and I were really on it today.

"In the semifinal, we lacked a lot of energy, so we weren't playing up to the best of our ability. But once we found that spark, we played better."

Heavy hitters

Kang, the No. 2 seed in singles, and Maxey, the top seed, followed similar paths to the final, winning four matches each in straight sets.

The two exchanged breaks through the first seven games of the first set before Maxey held serve in the pivotal eighth game to take a 5-3 lead.

Kang held serve in the ninth game and then broke back to make it 5-5, but Maxey answered with another break and then held serve to close out the set.

"At 6-5, I was still okay," Kang said. I thought I could make it into a tiebreaker, but then the last game in the first set I made a lot of mistakes."

Maxey fed off the miscues and carried that momentum into the second set, putting away a forehand winner on break point in the fifth game to take a commanding 4-1 lead.

Maxey then had a 5-2 lead and was serving for match point when Kang sent a backhand long to end it after 2 hours, 5 minutes.

"I think that went as well as could be expected," Maxey said. "I knew I wanted to get it done in two sets instead of three because we've had a lot of three-set matches and I really wanted to avoid another one.

"My game plan was to keep my feet moving, get low, and be consistent. I think I executed those things pretty well. I know in the deuce games, it was getting tougher, but I stuck with the game plan and I pulled through."

Kang had some success early in the match when she consistently played the ball deep and to Maxey's backhand, but switched things up in the second set and started playing the ball directly down the middle to try and minimize unforced errors.

"In the second set, I made even more mistakes," Kang said. "I don't know, it just kind of slipped out of my hands. I wanted a different outcome, but she won, she deserves it, and the outcome is the outcome."

On to state

In boys action, Clackamas' duo of Eddie Kahl and Sam Lee punched a ticket to state with a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win over Barlow's Hudson Pate and Chance Anderson in Tuesday's quarterfinals.

After splitting the first two sets, Clackamas broke the Bruins' serve at their first opportunity in the third when Lee fired an overhead that sent Barlow scrambling for an off-balance return that sailed wide.

"It came down to anticipation, reading our opponents' patterns and try to keep three steps ahead," Lee said.

The Cavaliers went up 3-0 in the set before Barlow flipped its scorecard, putting the match back on serve when Anderson and Kahl got locked into a pinball rally at the net. Kahl stretched to reach the first ball, but Anderson came back with a sharp volley behind his opponent. Kahl impressively spun his body in time to take a stab at the ball, but his return went wide.

"Obviously you get more nervous in a third set, so you go to the shots you are most comfortable with, and I reminded myself to hit all the way through the ball," Kahl said.

The pivotal sixth game saw three deuce points before the Cavaliers prevailed to regain the upper hand. Barlow turned back the first match point, but Kahl hammered a shot into the deep corner, and the Bruins popped their return long.

"I've been close to reaching state all three years, and to finally accomplish that feels good," Kahl said.

Clackamas' Rogue Stone dropped a 6-1, 6-2 decision to defending champion Christian Maxey in the boys singles semifinals, and then fell 8-5 to Central Catholic's Ristam Habtemariam to finish in fourth place.

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