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BOYS TENNIS: A three-set win at No. 2 doubles pushes the Pioneers past Centennial

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Talati Polamalu races across the middle of the court to hit a return in the Pioneers three-set win at No. 2 doubles Wednesday at Centennial.

Mount Hood Conference

Team Score
Sandy Pioneers
Centennial Eagles

PORTLAND — The last match on the courts decided the team winner in Sandy's 5-3 victory at Centennial to open the Mount Hood Conference boys tennis season last Wednesday.

After splitting the first two sets, Sandy's No. 2 doubles team of Nolan Johns and Talati Palomalu took the first three games of the decisive third set.

Centennial's Austin Le tried to get Centennial back into the match by whipping a forehand blast down the alley, followed by a backhand winner cross court. The Pioneers would reel off the next four points, largely of Centennial miscues, to break serve for a second time and take charge of the set.

Le tweaked his shoulder for an injury delay as the team's approached match point, but that was all that would slow down the Sandy pair of their way to the 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win.

Sandy swept the doubles ladder with Noah Perry and Abe Smith collecting a 6-4, 6-1 win at the top of the lineup.

The Sandy duo took early command in the second set with Perry hitting a lob down the alley, which prompted a high return from the Eagles. Smith was ready at the net for an overhead blast. Smith would put away another ball at the net on deuce point in the next game to put Sandy in charge 3-0.

"Getting up to the net always helps us, and we were able to split them a lot," Smith said.

The Pioneers converted match point when Smith hit a solid return, and Centennial put a one-hopper into the net.

"It was our first match of the year, and it was good to get back into the rhythm of it," Perry said.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Ethan Chang reaches out for a backhand return during his 6-4, 6-1 win in No. 1 singles.

Sandy's Ethan Chang, a transfer from Parkrose, pulled out of pivotal early win 6-4, 6-1 in No. 1 singles. After falling behind early in the first set, he claimed 11 of the final 13 games.

"I was rusty being the first match of the season, so it was just a matter of getting back into the motion," Chang said. "I won that first set and just kept pushing on him."

Chang served a love-game to even the score at 4-4, then closed out the first set with back-to-back blasts that drove his opponent into the back corner. That left the court open for a forehand winner that brought up double set-point. Chang would emerge from a 12-hit exchange to take the set.

Sandy finished with a 16-game advantage across the eight matches.

The Pioneers returned to the courts the following day and finished out a perfect opening week with a 5-3 win over Gresham. Sandy secured the team victory by getting straight-set wins out of the No. 4 spots by Carsyn Meyers in singles and Stan Lozovinskiy and Josh Warner in doubles.

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This story is slated for our March 20, print edition.

— - MHC tennis

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