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The Tigers split the day's singles matches, then post a 3-1 edge in doubles to win

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Newberg senior Quintin Nigbur and the Tigers battled past McMinnville 5-3 on Thursday, May 2, to secure the 2019 Pacific Conference title.

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That's exactly where the Newberg boys tennis team ended the regular season after muscling past McMinnville 5-3 at home May 2, a win that gave the Tigers the Pacific Conference title.

And it was a win that Newberg had to earn, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Grizzlies.

"We're a better team, but they came out and took the momentum early," said NHS coach Dave Brown, now in his 20th season at the Tigers' helm. "I'm glad we were at home."

With the win, Newberg finished the Pacific Conference season with a perfect 12-0 mark (12-1 overall) to secure the title, the ninth in school history and first since the 2013 season. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, finished second at 10-2, with both losses coming to the Tigers (including a 6-2 Newberg victory at McMinnville on April 11).

Brown said that the tests of 2018 played a big part in his team's success in 2019.

"Playing in the Three Rivers League (in 2018) was awfully tough, but it made us better," he said. "Being battle-tested … it was good for our kids to see a high level of tennis every day."

Next up, the Tigers and Grizzlies will join the rest of the Pacific Conference's best at the district tournament, set for Thursday through Saturday at Linfield College in McMinnville.

"It should be us and McMinnville (at district)," Brown said. "It may come down to who gets the better draws and who stays mentally focused."

In Newberg's May 2 victory, the Tigers split the day's four singles matches with McMinnville, but won three of four in doubles to secure the win.

The Grizzlies held the upper hand at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, getting a 6-1, 6-1 win by Cody Pickar over Newberg's Joel Luft at No. 1 singles, while McMinnville's Kris Renshaw battled past Tiger Luke Esmond 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 singles.

Newberg answered in the No. 2 and No. 4 singles, however, seeing Paul Sperling win a tough three-setter over Josh Flores 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2, and Drew Sellke racing past Matias Boria 6-1, 6-2 at No. 4.

Brown — whose team was battling the flu and missing one of its regulars — complimented Pickar's efforts at No. 1 singles and said he should have a chance at the district singles crown, while adding that Sellke kept his unbeaten record intact: "He's been money all year."

The Grizzlies stepped up to win again at No. 1 doubles, with Will Gardner and Nalen Stephens fighting past Quintin Nigbur and Mike Hopkins 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, but McMinnville wouldn't win again.

Newberg swept the remaining three doubles matches to pull away, starting with a 6-1, 6-4 victory by Jesh Pintor and Marcus Hopkins over McMinnville's Eli Wiles and Wyatt Taffling at No. 2 doubles.

"We didn't plan on losing at first doubles — we should have won that one," Brown said. "But at second doubles, Pintor played out of sight."

The Tigers kept the momentum rolling at No. 3 doubles, where Jonathan Guzman and Spencer Lanier swept past McMinnville's Cedar Hawkins and Evan Turner 6-1, 7-5, and at No. 4 doubles, seeing Isaac Williams and Nick Frampton drop Michael Graig and James Citzen 6-4, 6-3 to seal their team's 5-3 victory.

"Our No. 3 doubles was really solid, and our No. 4 doubles played about as good as all year long," Brown said.

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