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Timberwolf senior Jensen Barnes and the Tiger team of Nicole Mazzeo and Ali Dreves look strong

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin High School senior Jensen Barnes hits a shot during her 6-0, 6-0 victory in No. 1 singles play during the Wolves' 6-2 win over Tigard.TUALATIN — Jensen Barnes is ready for a big season.

So is the team of Nicole Mazzeo and Ali Dreves.

If that happens remains to be seen. But, one thing is for sure — Barnes, a Tualatin High School senior, and the duo of Mazzeo, a Tigard senior, and Dreves, a Tiger sophomore, got their Three Rivers League tennis seasons off to roaring starts.

Barnes picked up an impressive victory in No. 1 singles play, while Mazzeo and Dreves stormed to a win in No. 1 doubles play, when the Timberwolves hosted the Tigers in a Three Rivers League girls tennis dual-match opener held March 13 at Tualatin High School.

"It went pretty well," said Barnes, who picked up a 6-0, 6-0 victory in No. 1 singles play. "I was pretty nervous going into it, just because it's the first match, and we've had a lot of rain, so we hadn't practiced very much. But, overall, it was just exciting to get out there and play again. It's my season."

Barnes, with her win, helped the Timberwolves get a 6-2 team victory over the rival Tigers in the league opener.

"We're looking pretty good," Barnes said. "We did pretty well last year, but I think we're stronger and more connected this year. That's a big thing for us. We've got a lot of new players who are showing a lot of promise."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard sophomore Ali Dreves (left) and senior Nicole Mazzeo share a laugh during their 6-0, 6-0 victory in No. 1 doubles play during the Tigers' match at Tualatin.The Tigard team, even though it won't have two-time defending singles state champion Lizzy Stevens this year, is also optimistic.

"I'm really hopeful," Mazzeo said. "We have a lot of people stepping up in singles. We have a lot of new varsity players, and things are looking great so far."

"We have really good team chemistry this year," Dreves said. "We all compliment each other and we have a lot of personalities."

Mazzeo and Dreves, at No. 1 doubles, look to lead the way for the Tigers this season. They looked strong in the match at Tualatin, picking up a 6-0, 6-0 victory.

"It went really well. It's good that Ali and I are back playing together this year," Mazzeo said. "We're getting back into the groove. We're feeling great, and we still have that team chemistry from volleyball (where they both played for the Tigard varsity). We're feeling good about the season, and we're really, really excited."

Last year, in their first season as a doubles team, Mazzeo and Dreves reached the quarterfinal round of the Three Rivers League district tournament, leaving them just one win short of reaching the Class 6A state tournament. That's what they've got their sites set this year.

"We're super excited for this year," Dreves said. "We want to get to state. Last year, we lost in the match that would have got us there. That's a big goal. We're going to just have to keep getting better playing together."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard junior Emma Parker goes after the ball during No. 1 singles play when the Tigers played at Tualatin last week."We're really hopeful and excited, so this year, the goal is getting to state," Mazzeo said. "And we don't just want to get to state, but we want to go far there. Especially, for my senior year, I want to get to state. We've been working hard so far. My sophomore year, in singles, I made it to qualifiers (the quarterfinal round) at district. And then last year, in doubles it was the same thing. So I just need to break through that last match."

Barnes earned a spot at state both last year and as a freshman. She's looking to get back there again this year.

"My goal is to win district, but every little goal along the way is to get better, and that's just the end goal," she said. "I'm very committed. I'm working toward the goal of getting better. I really want to enjoy this season. I'm finally a team captain. That's a big thing for me. I've always wanted to be a leader on this team. I love helping the girls, and I love this sport. It's something I'm going to play for the rest of my life."

Barnes also showed off an improved serve during her league-opening victory.

"I've been working on my serve a lot," she said. "It was a weakness last year, and I struggled with it mentally, but this year, I've been overcoming a lot of things mentally."

The talented Timberwolves swept all four varsity singles matches in the contest with Tigard. Tualatin sophomore Averi Lewis picked up a 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles. Junior Tammy Nguyen got a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 3 singles and senior Haley Harrington won 7-5, 7-5 at No. 4 singles.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin juniors Sophie Bennett (left) and Darci Chamberlin celebrate a point during the No. 1 doubles match when the Wolves hosted rival Tigard last week.The Wolves also picked up a pair of wins in doubles play. At No. 2 doubles, the Tualatin team of juniors Hannah Shaub and Kate Vohland got a 7-6, 6-2 win. At No. 3 singles, the team of seniors Claire Boswell and Maria Duong picked up a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

Tigard's other victory came at No. 4 doubles, where the duo of junior Priscila Loza Orozco and Ellie Noyes got a 6-4, 6-0 win in the friendly rivalry.

"Some sports they really get into it, but tennis is more of a sport of etiquette, I know some of their players really well," Mazzeo said of the match between the rivals. "This is one of those sports where the rivalry is a healthy kind of thing. It's still competitive, but in a healthy kind of way."

Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday. Tigard will travel to Lake Oswego and Tualatin will host Canby in league matches starting at 4 p.m. The Wolves will also be home on Thursday to play Westview in a non-league match starting at 4 p.m.

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