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Newberg High School squad sees steady improvement as the Pacific Conference season progresses

 - Junior Gabby Severson and the Newberg girls tennis won two of three matches last week.

After slipping up in early April and losing four of its five meets, the Newberg High School girls tennis team picked up a pair of victories last week in a trio of matches at home and on the road.

The Tigers beat Glencoe 6-2 on April 16, lost to Forest Grove 7-1 the following day and won a home bout with Liberty 5-3 on April 18.

The victories in a markedly weaker Pacific Conference – as compared with the Three Rivers League – are a sign of the team's progress, coach Jon Halstead said.

"We're coming along nice," he said. "We're improving a lot and we don't have a lot of girls who hit all year long, but I see us getting better with serves, volleys and everything else."

McMinnville and Sherwood are the top teams in the conference, Halstead said, adding that he believes a handful of the girls at NHS have a chance to compete at the district tournament, but the top two teams in the league boast unmatched depth compared to the Tigers.

Halstead expects junior Annika Sellke to qualify in singles and will advocate for the doubles team of seniors Jessica Bue and Kaitlyn Butorac to be seeded as well. The trio represent Newberg's best chance to advance based on their play this season.

"When it comes tournament time, that's when the rubber hits the road," Halstead said. "We don't have the depth to compete with McMinnville and Sherwood right now, but down the road if we get to use George Fox's new facility, that should help."

Using that facility at GFU more frequently would provide NHS with more opportunities to play year-round – something this group hasn't done much.

For now, however, the team is focused on its 2019 season and closing it out strong. Halstead, a longtime tennis coach, said he likes coaching girls teams better because they work hard and listen consistently, not worrying about getting a flashy highlight or anything of that sort.

Newberg plays Forest Grove again on Thursday at home, followed by hosting Century on Friday. A road matchup with McMinnville on May 2 closes out the regular season before Pacific Conference district championships May 9-11.

"Given that we're in a league we can compete in, it's going pretty well," Halstead said. "I think we have a real shot at a presence at districts, but we'll see."

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