By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– To win three-straight District Titles is something special regardless the sport your talking about. But to have the girls tennis team winning Districts at the same time is just as awesome.
“It’s super exciting because last year, I know everyone really fought hard and they didn’t pull through, but this year we all as a team across the board, it’s pretty awesome I think,” said Tori Lewis. “It’s awesome that we all get to be apart of it and we all worked together to do that and achieve that.”
“I think it’s just a awesome experience because we did it as a team for the third year in a row, so being able to bond with the guys here is just an amazing experience to finish our High School career,” said Peyton Hunt, who’s first-year of tennis was the first-time the Cascade Men won Districts during his sophomore-year
For the Guys Tennis Team at Cascade, they had an unique way of getting number three in 2017 as they qualified two Doubles teams for the State Tennis Meet in the process of winning number three.
Of the two Doubles teams, the one that is seeded fourth in the tournament has a player from Germany that has never played Tennis in the States until this year in Yannik Hulbert.
Through the change of playing Stateside, the Hulbert-Daniel Suelzle dynamic has the duo believing that they can medal in the bracket in 2017.
“It’s very exciting because it’s like my first time play here in America and I know Daniel is excited too because it’s his first time behind seeded too,” said Hulbert. “We really want to win a medal this year. We work for each other, we hustle for each other and it’s fun with him because we have the same sense of humor on the court so it’s always fun with him.”
But interestingly enough, there’s some underdog twist to the qualifers for the Cougars.
With Hunt and Micheal Biddington, they turned a one-set deficit into a three-set thrilling win to make it to Corvallis this weekend following some wise words from their Head Coach in between the first and second sets that they used as fuel for the remiander of the match in what’s being called that ‘Match of the Tournament’.
If the match went in favor of their opponent, there was a good chance that Madras would’ve snapped the streak for Cascade Boys Tennis as District Champions.
“I had to say this, I don’t know where it came from I think the Good Lord really put it in my head that particular day, but I pulled Michael and Peyton aside after the first-set in that particular match,” said Cascade Boys Head Coach Bob Reinhardt. “They lost the first set, and it wasn’t me, it was the Lord that gave me this, but he said to me and I said to them, ‘If there’s anybody on the team that I believe that next two sets, it’s you two-guys and take this one’, and sure enough they did it.
“And sure enough they did it, they were the Underdogs. They did it, they pulled it out and they sucked it up and pulled it out. So that was important.”
Now, the un-seeded underdogs will open State versus Daniel Bennett and River Morse of North Bend with the goal in mind of winning at least one match in the Tournament with a tough challenge ahead that could await in the second round.
“For State this year, we will love to win our first match because we’re Top 8 in the whole State and the second-round it will be pretty tough, it’ll be a seeded team like Catlin Gabel I think,” said Hunt. “If we beat them, that’ll be incredible, but to win the first-round would be amazing.”
“We really got nothing to lose,” adds Biddington. “No one really thought we could make it to the State Tournament…we’re going to give it our all and not looking back.”
If they win, they’ll face the winner of the double match between Vale and the the number-two team in the bracket from the Oregon Episcopal School in Nat Serrier and Sam Berger.
Another pair of underdogs, this time from the Girls team are Erica Mitchell and Jenica Wiebenga. Both were unseeded and Wiebenga was the Lady Cougs number four tennis player entering the District Meet.
Mitchell has been in the big tournament before, making it to the quarterfinals the past two years, but that added factor of being ‘unseeded’ this year adds some spice and excitement to what is to come as she faces Alexis Schwartz of Ontario in the first-round.
“And making it this year, not even seeded is nice, it’s exciting,” said the junior. “I just have to bring in that momentum. I just feel great just being there and I’m honor to be there with everyone who’s been playing their whole lives, it’s insane.”
Wiebenga’ s journey to State was something incredible. Playing number-four singles all season long and getting that one crack at Districts and taking full advantage of it by finding a way to qualify for the State Tournament.
“I didn’t expect that at all, like this year I played number-four singles all year and I didn’t expect it, but I was super excited that I even got to have a honor to play at Districts and instead I’m going to State,” said Wiebenga. “It’s a honor I feel like slowly I’ve been learning more and more each match, so I feel like that momentum will really help and people might under-estimate, but it’ll be fun anyway.”
Lewis and Alejandra Osuna, the lone doubles team that qualified from the Cascade Girls program, will have a tough opening match Friday versus the number two seed in Vale’s Drew Dobney and Tessa Mcfetridge.
But the duo can’t let the nerves get to them when it’s match-time even though they may have them when they get out on the court.
“We’re going to be nervous, but we can’t act nervous or else it’ll show on the court. Play tough,” said Lewis.
“We just need to bring everything, everything we got.” adds Osuna.
The start of the Girls Tennis State Championships will be at 8am Friday morning with the singles at Oregon State University’s Tennis Complex with the Guys State Tournament starting at 8am as well with singles.
Double-play won’t start until 10am for both Boys and Girls.
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