With a smaller team, and about a week of practice, the boys have had some struggles in 2021.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: MICHELLE NETT - Observing COVID safety precautions, members of the St. Helens High School boys tennis team work through a shortened season. The St. Helens High School boys tennis team has wrapped up a shortened six-week season.

While the win-loss record didn't work out exactly as he had hoped, coach Ryan Ward is happy that, after a lot of time off, the team was finally able to display their skills on the court.

"We have a smaller team," Ward said. "With the COVID season, they had a whole year and a half off. They came in with about a week of practice before we had our first match. So, everyone kind of got thrown into it."

Ward remarked, "As soon as we started, everyone was excited to be back and doing something. Everyone had been sitting at home for so long that they're excited to get back. They would get there early and stay late."

During the season, which finished with a 3-7 record, a couple of players stood out, including Sam Moehring, who is St. Helens' top boys singles player.

"His work ethic is outstanding," Ward said. "Rain or shine, he would come. Even before the season started, he would be at a few training sessions during the winter. He's a great team leader."

Moehring, according to Ward, had a lot of tough matches where he was in competition with kids who played year-round or who had access to a trainer.

Ward also mentioned Kodi Miller and Dylan Shafer, his top doubles duo.

"They played really well this season. They had a lot of tiebreakers. They competed with every team's number-one doubles," Ward said.

Unfortunately, he added, Shafer recently suffered a dislocated knee.

Ward continued, "One up-and-coming player is Cameron Waite, who is a sophomore, so this is actually his first year. He didn't have a season last year because of COVID, so this is his first year. He's putting in extra time, and he's developed so much from the first day of practice until now."

Another player to follow in the future is Ross Cahill, a sophomore who just started this year.

"He's a big, tall football player who decided to try tennis this year," Ward said. "He turned out to be a net monster."

COVID-19 did affect one player for St. Helens.

"We had one player whose family member had COVID, so he had to quarantine," Ward said, noting the player himself did not get sick.

As with other years, St. Helens faced some tough competition.

"Every year, the teams to beat are LaSalle and Wilsonville," Ward said. "This year, LaSalle cleaned the table in our league. They're the top dogs."

The season is over, but Ward looks ahead to next season.

"It's a very young team," he said. "This is a good year to get some experience because there are a lot of newer players or second-year players. Everyone is going to be able to come back.

"I'm definitely pleased with how far they've developed from day one until now. I'm excited for them to get some work in the summer and come back for next year."

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