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Ahead of NWOC district meet, Wildcats had final chance to hone their skills against Cougars

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Wilsonvilles Mohammad Hassen and Evan Lawdy discuss strategy between sets against Canby. One thing is certain ahead of the boys tennis district tournament: Wilsonville has a solid chance at advancing several competitors through to the state tournament.

Recently, the boys team took on nearby 6A school Canby on Thursday, May 2, and walked away with a decisive 7-1 victory. In the No. 1 spot, senior Jack Roche shut out Canby's Owen Bradfute 2-0 (6-0, 6-0). In the No. 2 spot, Zach Brehm had a nearly identical score against opponent Angel Orzcozomora 2-0 (6-0, 6-1). The team's near sweep had one blemish, a hard-fought loss in the No. 1 double slot, with Canby's Thijs Peperkamp and JP Phan winning 2-0 (6-4, 6-4) over Wilsonville's Evan Lawdy and Mohammad Hassen.

The success that Wilsonville enjoyed against Canby is not an aberration either. The team is second in the Northwest Oregon Conference behind La Salle.

"I knew we were going to be fairly strong this year," said Wilsonville boys tennis coach Mark Sundquist. "I scheduled very difficult nonconference matches, and I think that's paid off very well. We've taken lumps to some very good 6A schools. It's helped us perform well in our conference, and playing up levels really has helped us, I think."

Against Canby, Sundquist took the opportunity to highlight his seniors and what they bring to the program. If you ask the longtime coach, it's a legacy of commitment to, not only tennis, but to the team, generally. PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Wilsonville senior Jack Roche shut out his opponent 2-0 (6-0, 6-0) on Thursday, May 2.

"I think the best thing about this group of seniors is that they keep you loose," Sundquist said. "Their sense of humor and joking around and teasing each other. What I like about them is when the lights go on, it's time to play. They're very competitive, and supportive of each other. They keep tennis fun, which is ultimately one of my goals. They do a great job of that. All of the seniors in different ways have stepped up and showed leadership ability."

With just the district meet ahead, beginning Tuesday, May 7, and finishing up the following day, Sundquist believes that at least four members of his team, singles and doubles, will advance through the NWOC gantlet into the state tournament.

Senior Jack Roche and sophomore Jackson Dean on the singles side, and doubles pairs Zach Brehm and Nate Ogden, and Evan Landy and Carter Troha all figure to be strong contenders.

For the doubles teams, it's a certain chemistry that Sundquist believes will aid their quests to state tournament berths.

"First and foremost, as doubles partners, they play really well together, and complement each other," Sundquist said. "One person's weakness is the other person's strength, and in tennis that's a really good thing. You have somebody who is really strong up at the net. You can also have somebody back doing ground strokes. It's important to have that. And just their camaraderie and how they play together. They don't get too high, they don't get too low. They kind of stay composed, which is a good thing to have."

The district meet will take place at Parkrose High School, and is scheduled to start at 8 a.m.

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