Barlow and David Douglas give chase on the tennis courts
The Clackamas girls tennis team puts its perfect record on the line this week when the Mount Hood Conference district tournament gets under way Monday at Oregon City High School.
The Cavaliers went 14-0 during the dual-meet season, but it wasn't without some scares along the way. David Douglas pushed them to a 'sets-won' tiebreaker in one match and lost by a slim 5-3 count in the other meeting. Barlow also pushed Clackamas to tight 5-3 decisions and hopes to pounce at district behind top-seeded singles player Grace Maxey.
The Bruins' junior is 13-1 on the season (27-3 in sets) and is coming off a win last week over No. 2 seed Elise Kang — a rookie out of Clackamas.
"She is playing great," Barlow coach Eric Strandberg said. "One of her strengths is her ability to chase down balls — she has the tenacity to never give up."
Barlow's doubles team of senior Bethany Cox and junior Ainsley Pate earned the No. 2 seed after going 12-2 over the course of the regular season.
David Douglas brought together seniors Jie Tan and Lillian Truong late in the season, but they won all five of their matches decisively and earned the top seed in the doubles bracket. While playing with different partners for most of the season, the two went a combined 25-3 on the doubles courts.
"Splitting them up we were almost guaranteed two wins on the doubles courts in every dual," Scots' coach Bret Walker said. "They play aggressively and try to take the net. Jie has a great court sense and isn't afraid to move around."
The Scots' top singles player Abby Alvarez earned the No. 4 seed.
The favored Cavaliers have dominated the singles courts all season, going a combined 49-6 (.891). Senior Nikki Koplakov is unbeaten this season, winning all three of her matches after bumping up to the team's No. 2 spot late in the season.
That spot opened up when junior Olivia Morris switched over to doubles with similar success and will play with rookie Meling Masterson at district.
"We have to play with a lot of energy, while be disciplined and smart," Strandberg said. "At this point in the season it's about execution and making the right shot at the right spot in the match. At the end of the day, you have to be in the top four to make it to state."
• On the boys side, Central Catholic holds the inside track to the MHC crown after going 13-1 in dual meets, but Clackamas, Barlow and David Douglas also figure to be in the mix at this week's tournament.
Barlow is led by junior Christian Maxey, who earned the No. 1 seed in the singles draw after going 13-1 during the regular season in which he won 75 percent of his games played.
"He doesn't have a lot of holes in his game," Barlow coach Andrew Pate said. "He's always willing to buy into the coaching he receives."
One of the biggest jumps since his rookie season two years ago is at the service line.
"When you make your serve a weapon, you can score a free points in a game and that shifts the pressure the other way," Pate said. "If you have a weak serve, you are under attack all the time, and that's a tough way to play."
The tournament typically seeds the top four in each bracket, but this year they allowed for a fifth-seeded team in doubles — that spot going to Barlow's senior duo of Nick Pritykin and Gary Curtin, who didn't start playing together until the last handful of matches.
"They are still getting a feel for each other, and as seniors graduation is getting close and a lot starts to pile up on your plate," Pate said. "The key for them will be to block those things out, have a laser focus and just play."
David Douglas finished fourth in the dual-meet season, but had the most successful doubles ladder in the league going 50-6 (.893) in tag-team matches. Kenton Bui and Thien Nguyen earned the tourney's No. 1 seed after not dropping a set in 10 matches together. Senior Tim Le was unbeaten playing mostly out of No. 2 doubles this season and will be paired with Randy Cao.
The tournaments will play through the first round beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, then return at 9 a.m. Tuesday for second round and quarterfinal action. The girls play at Oregon City High School, while the boys are at David Douglas.
The boys and girls convene at David Douglas for Wednesday's session that begins with semifinal matches at 9 a.m. followed by championship matches. Rain is in the forecast mid-week, which could push action to the indoor courts at Glendoveer's facility.