Olivera cousins battle hard, lose two matches
The girls tennis team of Jessica and Erika Olivera became district champions May 9, at Black Butte Ranch, and headed into the state tournament in Corvallis seeded No. 2, but couldn't find their groove and were eliminated early.
Jessica and Erika ran through all their competition this season, only losing one set all season, but were caught off guard by the tougher teams they had to face at the state tournament in Corvallis, May 17.
The two played their first match against Layton Rosenfield and Ellie Nicholson, of Catlin Gabel, a private 3A school in Portland. They lost their first set in a close 6-4 loss and lost their second set 6-2. The Olivera cousins were eliminated from the winners bracket and moved to the consolation bracket, where they would face Ava Eklund and Whitney Korth, of Marist Catholic (4A).
"I thought we were capable of winning the first match, but our play just wasn't there like it should have been," head girls coach Dave Jordan said. "We made more mistakes than they did and that was the difference. They didn't really beat us; we beat ourselves."
Jessica and Erika Olivera had great experience during the 2018 state tournament, winning the consolation bracket and placing fifth for the Buffs. They were looking to do the same after they were upset in their first match.
The match started outside with a slight drizzle of rain. The consolation games are only one set, first to eight games. Jessica and Erika started the match a little slow, down 1-0.
They kept up with Eklund and Korth, but were still down 4-3 halfway through the match. Marist Catholic won the next game and was up 5-3 before the rain started to make the courts unsafe and the match was moved to inside courts.
The girls were fighting for every point against the good Marist Catholic team and crept closer, down 6-5. Erika and Jessica were close to tying the match up, but lost a very close game and found themselves down 7-5.
Madras' doubles team showed resilience again, winning the next game and was down 7-6. Eklund and Korth won the last game of the match and Erika and Jessica Olivera lost 8-6 and were eliminated from the tournament.
"I think this season was extremely hard when it started because of the weather and having to play inside, along with not playing our first couple matches together," Erika Olivera said. "We knew that wasn't going to stop us and we knew we wanted to take that district title. That was our overall goal for the season."
"We knew we were going to be able to make it to state, but once we were seeded, all of the pressure really came," she said. "Once we got here, everyone was just really good. I think not having strong competition throughout the season and the fact that everyone at state is so much better, it really hurt us. If we would have had some tougher competition, we would have really been ready to go at the tournament."
"I am proud of how we ended things at districts and I don't want these state losses to overshadow our season," said Olivera. "It was hard knowing how things ended this year, but I am still proud of us. We are excited to see what the future holds for the rest of our returning tennis players next season."
Erika and Jessica had an outstanding regular season and district tournament, only losing one set all season and were undefeated heading into the state tournament. The two put in hard work together as a doubles team throughout all four seasons of their high school career.
"They had a great season and went undefeated until they got here," Jordan said. "They had a great four years and it was wonderful to work with them. They have really grown as tennis players and I am proud to have coached them."
The team is losing six good tennis players this season, but have some strong returners next year and an athletic group of youngsters heading into high school.
"I have heard that there is a good freshman class coming up and I don't know how many are going to play tennis, but I know they are a good group of athletes," Jordan said. "We have Kelsey (Olivera), Erika's little sister, who is going to be really strong for us. I am looking forward to seeing how Kylie Borchert progresses as an athlete. She came along strong this year and she is going to improve next year for sure. Those are going to be our two base kids next season."