Tigard's Mazzeo, Dreves claim state berth
PORTLAND — Last year, they came close.
This year, they weren't going to be denied — and they're pretty happy about it.
Tigard High School senior Nicole Mazzeo and sophomore Ali Dreves, a year after coming up just one win short of earning a Class 6A state tennis tournament bid, grabbed a state spot this year by battling their way to third place in girls doubles competition at the Pacific Conference district tournament, which concluded Friday at the Portland Tennis Center.
"It really, really means a lot," Mazzeo said. "Me and Ali have been working for this for a really long time. Last year was unfortunate, because we lost to the No. 1 seed from this year in the quarterfinals. This has been something that we've been really focused on for a couple years now — and, for me, since I began playing tennis."
The top four placers in singles and doubles competition at the TRL district tournament advance to play in the Class 6A state tournament, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at the Babette Horenstein Tennis Center in Beaverton.
"The Three Rivers is one of the stronger leagues, so we're really happy to make it to state," Mazzeo said. "Now, we're looking forward to seeing teams from other leagues. I'm just excited to go, and have that experience, especially during my senior year. This feels really great."
Mazzeo and Dreves opened the district tournament by scoring a 6-0, 6-2 win over Tualatin's Sophie Bennett and Tammy Nguyen. The Tiger duo then bested Canby's Karly Bierma and Cassidy Lowry 6-2, 6-0 in the second round.
In the quarterfinals, with a state spot on the line, Mazzeo and Dreves got a 6-4, 6-0 win over Andrea Zanavich and Abby McGair from St. Mary's Academy.
"The key was to take every game, every match and even every point slowly," Mazzeo said. "We never got ahead of ourselves. Tennis is just so mental, especially on the high school level, which is something I've noticed, and I've grown with that as a player."
The Tigard duo, the No. 3 seed at the district tournament, then took on second-seeded Sophie Lowy and
Gigi Davies from Lakeridge in a back-and-forth semifinal match.
Mazzeo and Dreves got off to a strong start in that match, winning three straight games early on to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set. But the Pacer team rallied to get a 7-5, 6-4 win on its way to claiming the district doubles title.
"They're a great team, and really fun to play," Mazzeo said. "Neither team rolled over. I think we gained something from that loss."
They certainly seemed to, as the Tigard team got a 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 win over top-seeded Arielle Bloom and Julie Yazahari of Lake Oswego in the third-place match.
"It's a great feeling to do this with a partner who you are really great friends with," Mazzeo said. "I think maybe even our loss last year helped us grow stronger, mentally, as a team. We were super, super motivated."
Mazzeo and Dreves will open the state tournament on Thursday with a first-round match against McMinnville's Ainslie Ridgway and Mariah Arnold.
Also for the Tigard girls at the district tournament, the doubles team of senior Leah Swanson and sophomore Abby Gilliat won its first-round match.
For the Tigard boys, senior Evan Riley, senior Alex Thoren and sophomore Brandon Mattheson each won their first-round singles matches.
The doubles team of senior Conor Ciula and junior Nathan Williams and the team of senior Nikolas Portwood and sophomore Clayton Skeen were first-round victors.
Action at the Class 6A state tournament is set to start at 8 a.m. both Thursday and Friday, and at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday.