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Madras boys, girls tennis programs will each have two state returners this season.

STEELE HAUGEN - Tony Giron made it to state playing doubles, but will look to make state this year playing singles.Spring sports have arrived and athletes are starting to gear up for competition.

The Madras girls and boys tennis team has been practicing in the gym because of all the heavy snow outside.

The girls and boys have been practicing in similar ways, working on the basics and fundamentals. Head girls coach Dave Jordan and head boys coach Margaret Kincaid have been finding drills to keep their athletes engaged and working hard indoors.

"We have been doing the best we can in the gym," Jordan said. "We can work on a lot of skills that maybe we wouldn't have time for on the court: working on our serves a bit, the basic tosses and hits."

"The freshman girls have been able to do a lot more basics than we would have been able to do. In some ways, the snow (being inside) will really help our younger girls and serves, as well," he said.

"This is a big freshman class and I think we are going to get some really good players out of the class," said Jordan. "I am not sure who they are yet, but there are some athletes in that class. If they are athletic, then they will be able to translate that into tennis."

The boys and girls tennis teams will both be returning state qualifiers this year. The boys doubles team of Esteban Gomez and Tony Giron lost in the district finals in Sisters last year, but did not compete together at state and will not compete together this year.

"My goals are the same, to just set the highest goals I can." Giron said. "Go to state, compete at state — and I am playing singles this year, so I not only want to make it to the finals, I want to do it all. I am going to train as hard as I can to get there."

"I need to work a lot of my serves and really get some practice time on the singles court," he said. "I have been practicing in the summer, all on the singles court, and I really need to get used to the singles court instead of the doubles court."

"I have not been able to work on too much in the gym, but the court is a lot smaller, so if I can get my hits down in here, it is going to be a lot easier outside on a much bigger court," said Giron.

Several other athletes decided to play tennis this year, including stellar all-around athlete Byron Patt.

"Tony (Giron) is really strong and will be very promising," Kincaid said. "We have some new kids from other sports that will do really well. The team in really working on fundamentals and team bonding. We are really working on what we call fearless focus."

STEELE HAUGEN - The boys tennis team practices their serves while being inside the gym due to weather.Along with state qualifiers returning, the Buffalos' boys team has a total of 11 seniors on their squad this year, including Coty Simmons and Kobey Jorgensen, who are both looking to make a big impact this year.

"I have a small group this year, but it is a good solid, athletic team," Kincaid said. "I think once we get the kinks out, we are going to be pretty strong contenders. If they work hard and give 100 percent, we will do good this year."

"I have returners like Kobey Jorgensen, who is looking for a doubles partner, to complement each other," said Kincaid. "Esteban Gomez is also looking to play doubles, but we are not quite sure yet. He is working on his own personal gain, whether it is in doubles or singles."

On the girls' side, cousins Erika and Jessica Olivera are returning for their senior year. The doubles team of Erika and Jessica lost in the semifinals last year at districts, but won their final match to place third and reach state.STEELE HAUGEN - Senior Erika Olivera is looking to go back to state with doubles partner Jessica Olivera.

"Jessica and Erika (Olivera) should be the district favorites this year, even though I haven't seen anyone from Woodburn," Jordan said. "Woodburn is joining our district this year and I have no idea what they are like."

The senior doubles team made it to the consolation finals match at state, but lost a very close match, placing fifth at state.

"A lot of the good competition, (but) the players we had some trouble with all graduated," said Jessica Olivera. "We are expecting to be at the top and see what this year's competition will look like. We are expected to get to districts and hopefully, do better this year at state."

"We are really good at communicating, which helps us get the ball back over the net," she said. "I just hope we do well this year. We are both going to work on our serving this year and some individual stuff. She will work on her stuff and I need to work on my backhand, putting in some extra work."

STEELE HAUGEN - No. 1 girls singles tennis player Katherinne Parodi, right is looking to make state for the first time during her senior year.Senior Katherinne Parodi was the Buffalos' No. 1 singles player last year and is also looking to make a splash in the singles competition.

"Our senior class is a good, solid senior class with lots of experience," Jordan said. "We had two girls move on to state last year and hopefully we can get more girls this year. I would like to get Katherinne (Parodi), our number one singles athlete, there and she is going to be pushed this year by Erica Desjardins."

"I am really looking for some good competition for that number one spot and that will improve that number one spot," he said. "They are both good athletes and I am looking for some good rivalry, so they can push each other and get one of them to state, maybe both; who knows."

"I am ready to give it my all so I can make it to state this year," Parodi said.

"Hopefully, I can work hard enough to make it," she said. "The snow has put a pause on my growth for the season. I just need to practice hard every day of the week."

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