Two NHS doubles team headed to state
After three days of grueling competition at sites throughout McMinnville, the Newberg boys tennis team emerged with two of its doubles teams having qualified for state. One of those teams, senior Quentin Nigbur and junior Michael Hopkins, ended up winning the tournament one match after beating their teammates.
A semifinal matchup included Nigbur and Hopkins versus their Newberg teammates in senior Jesh Pintor and freshman Marcus Hopkins. The excitement of playing their teammates was only amplified by the fact that Pintor and Nigbur are best friends and Marcus is Michael's younger brother.
Nigbur and the elder Hopkins emerged victorious despite dropping the first set, moving on to face Nalen Stephens and Will Gardner from McMinnville in the finals. They won the district title 3-6, 7-6 (7-5 tiebreak), 6-4.
"When you're down 3-6, 1-4 like they were, you're pretty much toast, so I was really proud of them and how they responded," NHS coach Dave Brown said. "Quentin really cranked up his game big-time and served lights out for the rest of the match. Michael was nervous at first and then he settled in and did his thing."
Newberg won a regular season conference title this season by going 12-0 in those matches. It finished second, however, at the district tournament behind McMinnville. Had Pintor and Marcus Hopkins won their third-place match, the Tigers would've been district tournament champions as well.
But no use worrying about the past, Brown said. Nigbur-Hopkins and Pintor-Hopkins are both headed to state competition feeling good about their play.
Despite winning their league, though, the Newberg duos will face a tough draw in the state tournament regardless of who they play. Brown expects they won't be seeded and will face some of the tougher doubles teams in the state when competition rolls around.
There is hope that the parity of statewide boys tennis might help out the Tigers a bit.
"I'm on the state seeding committee, so Sunday morning I spend all morning at the state offices to help put it together," Brown said. "I'm pretty familiar with the processes and all the teams and this is probably the deepest state tournament I've ever seen in doubles. It's not as top-heavy as in the past."
The top teams are still the top teams, though. Schools like West Linn, Lake Oswego, Westview and others from relatively high-income communities are still king in "country club sports" like tennis and golf, Brown said. He added he envisions a world where everyone is on a level playing field. In that world, he said, schools like Newberg and its Pacific Conference compatriots would have a lot better chance to advance at state.
Regardless, Brown said he is joined by plenty of quality coaches in the new Pacific Conference who want to see the conference's standing improve. So far, Newberg is among those leading the way and their state qualifiers in doubles show that.
"In the first year back in the Pacific Conference, Newberg, Mac and Sherwood all did well on the boys' side," Brown said. "I think the coaching circle is a really good one and they recognize the fact that – as a new league – we've got to work together to make our league tougher."
Sellke seeded for girls
Newberg junior Annika Sellke was the only seeded tennis player on the girls' side, pegged as the No. 3 seed for girls in individuals. She beat Megan Jarvis from Glencoe – 6-2, 6-0 – in the first match of the tourney before falling in the quarterfinals – 2-6, 7-5, 1-6 – to Kolleen Peters from Sherwood.
Sellke will be back next season to try and improve on this year's solid performance, as will a large portion of a Newberg team that graduates five seniors: Arianna Kern, Jessica Bue, Kaitlyn Butorac, Moriah Reid and Valeria Cosgrove.