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Sydney Liao, the daughter of tennis coach Gary Liao, is the only student athlete on the Indians tennis team.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Sydney Liao, along with her tennis companion, Mochi. At Scappoose High School, the tennis team is truly a solo act.

That's because the team consists of only one girl, Sydney Liao — who happens to be the daughter of the school's tennis coach, Gary Liao.

It's a challenging situation for athletic director Dale French.

"We've never had tennis before, from what I could tell, because there's just a very limited amount of tennis courts in the community," French said, noting that there are two courts only at the middle school.

"I worked with the OSAA in finding out what were our options for adding tennis after the start of a school year," French said, noting it was decided to include Sydney Liao as the only player.

"That just entailed figuring out how to get Sydney matches against schools, because a school's team is usually four singles players and five doubles teams, so there are 14 players on a varsity team," French said.

Gary Liao was an obvious choice to coach the "team."

"Gary taught her (Sydney) how to play, so we got him checked out and qualified through the OSAA and the school in order to coach Sydney," French said.

French said the idea was, "How can we make this work so somebody that wants to play tennis and represent Scappoose can do it as we also explore what's the feasibility for adding tennis in the future in Scappoose. It's been kind of a parallel approach."

For her part, Sydney Liao says she's enjoying herself, but she wouldn't mind having some teammates.

"It's kind of hard to practice because I really don't have anyone I play against, so I mostly just practice against Dad and the ball machine," she said. "It's also kind of hard because we only have two courts (at the middle school), but that's fine, as long as I have a court to play on."

Sydney Liao added, "It's been fun. I'm just glad I get to play. I hope that we can get some more people or players to come out."

She hopes the tennis program will grow beyond just being one girl and her father.

"I'm hoping we can get a few more courts, because I think you have to have four courts to be able to play, so you can actually have other teams come over and play," Sydney Liao said. "I want to grow the program. I think that would be really fun. I know a few people I've talked to have been interested in joining."

Gary Liao also hopes to grow the tennis program.

"Sydney wants to have teammates for next year," he said. "We want to have a continuing program at Scappoose."

But, as Gary Liao said: "We need courts. We don't have enough courts. That's the problem."

Gary Liao continued, "We worked really hard to get her to be able to play five matches in six days. It was really sort of a crazy thing. But that's what it is. Her season ended up being six days of matches."

Sydney Liao does not just limit herself to tennis.

"She did cross country this year, and she also did basketball this year," Gary Liao said. "She loves basketball. Basketball is her sport."

Scappoose will be participating in a district tennis tournament, scheduled for May 9 and May 10, hosted by Parkrose High School.


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