Lake Oswego girls grab fourth at Class 6A state tennis
For the first time in a long time — or in the realm of high school sports, a very, very long time — the Lake Oswego girls tennis team did not win the Class 6A state championship.
But make no mistake about it, the Lakers were very, very good once again and pushed the state's best for all they were worth before finally finishing fourth overall. Sunset's girls ended Lake Oswego's three-year title reign by winning the 2019 Class 6A state tournament with 28 points, followed at the top of the team standings by Westview with 12, Roseburg at 11 and Lake Oswego with 10.5. The Class 6A state tournament was held Thursday, May 16, through Saturday, May 18, at the Babette Horenstein Tennis Center in Beaverton.
Those results left the Three Rivers League champion Lakers — who just completed their first year under head coach Dina Wood — with decidedly mixed feelings.
"I think with all the changes this year, our team is happy with placing in the top four teams," said Lake Oswego junior Arielle Bloom, who teamed with sophomore partner Julia Yazhari to reach the doubles quarterfinals. "It was exciting to have so many people on our team either playing or watching at state."
"I think we were all a little disappointed with placing fourth, but overall, fourth is still a good spot and I think a lot of us played some really great tennis," said Laker sophomore Mariam Nechiporuk, who reached the singles quarterfinals. "Overall, though, I think we've learned a lot by coming to state this year and I'm certain that we can do just as well, or even better, next year."
Lakeridge's girls, represented by the doubles team of senior Gigi Davies and sophomore Sophie Lowy, finished the three-day tournament in a 10th-place tie with four points.
"The tournament as a whole was a great experience," said Lowy, who joined with Davies to reach the doubles quarterfinals. "It was my first year going to state and I had such a great time meeting all the other players from different schools. It really is such a great environment with all the different athletes."
The complete team scoring included: Sunset 28, Westview 12, Roseburg 11, Lake Oswego 10.5, Lincoln 8, Beaverton 7, Sheldon 6, Summit 6, Wilson 6, Barlow 4, Jesuit 4, Lakeridge 4, Sherwood 4, West Linn 4, Clackamas 3, McMinnville 2.5, South Salem 2.5, Bend 2, Forest Grove 2, Roosevelt 2, Tigard 2, Tualatin 2, Central Catholic 0.5, Grant 0.5, Grants Pass 0.5.
Lake Oswego Girls
Lake Oswego battled the state's best with a large complement at state that included three singles players and one doubles team. In singles, the third-seeded Nechiporuk was the Lakers' best, following up her TRL singles championship by going 2-1 and reaching the state quarterfinals.
She opened her tournament with a bye, then needed three sets to get past Roseburg's Mackenzie Eichman in the second round. Nechiporuk, who was docked three games for arriving late to her match, eventually rallied to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and secure her berth in the quarterfinals.
"State is always a really fun experience for me because I get to play against players that I usually don't see year-round or get to go up against players that I've played earlier that year so it's really a well-rounded experience," she said. "I also love the team spirit there."
In her quarterfinal, however, facing Wilson sophomore Eryn Fabiane, Nechiporuk dropped a 7-5 decision in the first set, then saw Fabiane pull away in the second to win 6-2.
"My last match was a particularly tough one for me because I played (Fabiane) earlier this year and lost so I was hoping to do better," Nechiporuk said. "My mindset going into the match was 50/50 in terms of confidence vs. nerves, and I think what that match has showed me is that I need to work on my mental game … and just my ability to grind it out."
The Lakers also saw junior Julia Lininger-White and freshman Rebecca Prassas compete in singles, with Lininger-White posting a 6-3, 6-3 win over Summit's Anika Groener in her first match, then dropping a 6-2, 6-0 decision to Sunset senior Serim Jin — the eventual state champion — in round two.
Prassas, meanwhile, lost her first match — a 6-3, 6-4 decision against Roseburg junior Stef Early — then took a bye and a 9-7 pro-set win over Lincoln senior Alex Thompson in the consolation bracket before falling 8-4 to Grant's Eve Laurent.
In doubles, Bloom and Yazhari — they'd been top-seeded in the TRL tournament but finished fourth — won their first two matches, beginning with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Sandy's Emma Donahue and Kaytlin Poulin. After that, Bloom and Yazhari knocked off Summit's Sophie Wecker and Catherine Rutherford 6-1, 6-3 in the second round.
But the LO duo saw their tournament come to an end in the quarterfinals, dropping a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Lincoln's second-seeded Maggie Satchwell and Julia Rees.
"Our last match was against a very coordinated team," Bloom said. "Overall, it was good experience to play against a refined team with different playing styles. As a doubles team, Julia and I have improved a lot since last year and we were grateful to perform at state again."
While Lakeridge was represented by just Davies and Lowy at state, they made their chances count, winning twice to reach the state quarterfinals before falling to the eventual state champions.
"After winning district and making it to the quarterfinals of state, I couldn't be happier with how Gigi and I finished off our season," Lowy said. "In the end, Gigi and I played our best tennis and not only supported each other, but also had amazing coaches and teammates there beside us the whole time. The tournament was a great experience with great exposure to some amazing tennis and I can't wait to see what next season will bring."
Davies and Lowy opened their tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over South Salem's Suzie Kawano and Esha Puri, then followed that with a 6-1, 6-2 rout of Sheldon's Sara Campbell and Maddy Thorburn in round two.
The quarterfinals, however, brought a greater test — the top-seeded Sunset duo of Bo-bae Yu and Jin Yu, the eventual state champions. While Lowy and Davies gave their best effort against Yu and Yu — they were also the 2018 state runners-up — Yu and Yu were just too much, eventually winning 6-0, 6-1.
"Our last match was against a really good team that actually went on to win state," Lowy said. "(But) I was more than happy to get the opportunity to play such great players. While we did end up losing the match, just getting exposure to that level of tennis was better than winning in my mind. At the end of the day, Gigi and I went out there and we gave it our all and we made the most out of all our matches and that to me is what matters the most."