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Woodburn's and North Marion's top singles players advance to state quarterfinals in Roseburg

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Jonathan Swenson gives the Bulldogs their first singles qualifier in the state tournament since 2015.The Woodburn and North Marion boys tennis programs will each send a representative to the 4A state showcase tournament after qualifying their top singles players at the district championship in Black Butte Ranch.

Bulldog senior Jonathan Swenson and Husky junior Gage Hurst each punched their ticket to the main event on Friday, giving both programs their first representative at the final state competition in several years.

It was a four-year journey for the Woodburn senior, who came close to qualifying for state in 2019 as a sophomore, but came up short, followed by missing his junior year due to the cancellation of the 2020 spring season. Woodburn head coach Tom Lonergan said that while Swenson often struggled this season to hit consistently, the senior rose to the occassion at the district tournament.

"He's playing a lot better than earlier in the year," Lonergan said. "He looks like a better player."

This year's state tournament looks different than previous iterations. The state tournament is not an official OSAA championship, but dubbed a state showcase that will be played in Roseburg on Monday and at Marist High School on Tuesday. Due to uneven participation at the 4A level throughout the state, the Special District 2 in which Woodburn and North Marion competes was allowed eight qualifiers instead of the usual top four.

In a typical year, that would have meant Swenson would not qualify for the state event, after he was eliminated in the district quarterfinals.

But Lonergan believes that had the Bulldogs been competing for a top four qualifier instead of a top eight qualifier, Swenson would have likely matched up against North Marion's Hurst — a match up that the Woodburn coach believes Swenson could win.

" (Hurst) would have been the fourth seed, and that's where I would have put (Swenson) in that bracket," Lonergan said. "(Swenson) wouldn't have gotten seeded, but I believe he would have beaten (Hurst). From the eye test, he would have beat him."

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion junior Gage Hurst qualified for the 2021 4A state tennis showcase after beating his first three district opponents and advancing to the semifinals.The two rivals played each other earlier in the season with Hurst earning a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over Swenson. Hurst advanced to the district semifinals on Friday by winning his first three matches — 6-1, 6-1 over Andrew Levko of Woodburn, 6-1, 6-4 over Daniel Johnson of Stayton and 6-2, 6-3 against Hayden Holm of Stayton.

Swenson punched his ticket after defeating North Marion's Trent Hartenstein 6-0, 6-0 followed by a 6-0, 6-1 defeat of Molalla's No. 2 singles player Joshua Lam to advance to the quarterfinals. There he fell 6-1, 6-2 to Philomath's Dawson Beckstead, who earned the district's third seed.

In the district finals, Cascade's Zach Moore defeated Sisters' Nate Weber.

With the two qualifiers, Woodburn and North Marion send representatives to the state tennis tournament for the first time in several years.

The Huskies last went to the 4A state tennis championships in 2018 when doubles partners Abe Cervantes and Matthew Boonstra qualified as the 16th seed.

Woodburn's last reps came the year prior when Levi Samano and Trevor Karsseboom qualified as the 13th seed in the 2017 5A doubles tournament.

Both teams went 0-2 in their appearances.

The two programs have to reach back even further to identify their last singles players — 2016 for North Marion 4A state runner up Ethan Berkey and 2015 for 5A qualifier Beto Salmeron.

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