Lizzy Stevens wins a state title for the Tigers
BEAVERTON — Youth is served.
Well, in this case, youth serves really, really hard hard.
And youth just went out and dominated the entire state.
Lizzy Stevens, Tigard High School's freshman sensation, capped off her amazing debut season in the high school tennis ranks by powering her way to the championship in girls singles play at the Class 6A state tennis tournament, held last Thursday through Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District Tennis Center.
"It felt really nice being here representing my school. It was a really fun time," Stevens said after defeating Sunset sophomore Serim Jim 6-1, 6-1 in Saturday's state-title match. "I was really nervous at first because I knew there were big expectations but I just put that aside and came out and played for my school. I have a lot of friends out here, my whole team, and it was really nice to have them here cheering for me. It was a blast."
Well, not only did Stevens represent her school proudly, but she also made school history at the same time, as she became the first Tigard High School player to win a state tennis singles championship.
"Lizzy winning the title of state champion is huge," Tigard girls tennis coach Kelsey Wahl said. "She made history for Tigard. I'm so happy for Lizzy because I know how hard she works and how much she loves this sport. The entire school is proud of her and I honestly just feel lucky to be able to watch her compete."
And Stevens certainly did compete, right from the start of the season for the Tigers.
Playing No. 1 singles, Stevens went 10-0 in regular-season play, losing just a total of five games in the process.
She then breezed through the Three Rivers League district tennis tournament, going 5-0 at the event, losing just six games. She defeated Lakeridge's Lilly Stephens 6-1, 6-3 to win the district singles title.
Stevens entered the Class 6A state tournament as the No. 2 seed for girls singles play. After drawing a first-round bye, Stevens faced one of her Three Rivers League foes, Lake Oswego freshman Bo-Bae Yu in a second-round match last Thursday. And things didn't go totally smoothly in that contest.
Stevens jumped out to first-set leads of 2-0 and 4-1 in that contest, but Yu battled back to win the next two games, trimming the lead to 4-3.
But that just seemed to fire up Stevens. She rebounded to win the next two games to claim a 6-3 first-set victory. Stevens then won the first four games of the second set on her way to getting a 6-3, 6-2 win.
"I was a little nervous," Stevens said after that match. "I had to rally back. It was a totally different atmosphere, but it was fun."
In Friday's quarterfinal round, Stevens rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win over West Albany sophomore Ceanne Elliott. Later on Friday, in the semifinal round, Stevens posted a 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 6 seed Amelia Vu.
That victory propelled Stevens to the Class 6A girls singles championship match, where she faced the top-seeded Jin, who was the Metro League champion.
But even the No. 1 seed couldn't slow down the Tigard powerhouse, as Stevens came away with a 6-1, 6-1 victory — and a state championship.
"She gets everything back so I knew I had to stay calm and play my game and go for big margins," Stevens said of her title match with Jin. "I definitely dictated play. I knew I had to dictate coming in and take every chance I had. it's been a long time (since Tigard won a singles title) and it's just nice to be out here for my school. I did it for them."
"It was impressive," Wahl said of Stevens' title match victory. "Serim Jin is a very tough opponent, but Lizzy took control of the match from the very beginning. The crowd was getting really into it, which I think pumped Lizzy up. It was the most vocal I've seen her in a high school match, but also maybe the most focused. She played a solid match by balancing her power with smart shot selection. It seemed like she was just on another level. After match point, the cheering was so loud and Lizzy had a huge smile on her face. I loved seeing that. I really wanted her to have fun and enjoy playing in the state tournament, and I think she did."
Lake Oswego won the Class 6A state team championship — with a little help from Stevens. The Lakers took the top spot with a score of 20 points. Sunset finished second with 19. Had Stevens lost to Jin, then the Apollos would have claimed the team title.
The Tigard girls finished in fifth place with 10 points.
Jesuit won the Class 6A boys team title.
Miles Vance of Pamplin Media Group contributed to this story.