By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.– It happened. It finally happened.
The Cascade’s boys tennis program has finally picked up their first-ever State Champion in Zach Moore following his 6-2, 6-0 win over Catlin Gabel’s Tai Leong. Not just was he the first Cougar to ever win a State Championship, the Cascade junior became the first to win a State title out of the 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 2 in 20 years.
It wasn’t necessarily a ‘redemption’ tour with the junior finishing second in the 4A showcase last Spring, but instead, it was more of a seeing what he could do entering this Spring. If he got to this point.
“I wasn’t disappointed in being second last year at all. I felt like I did good with what I was capable of doing. This year, the goal was to improve upon that,” Moore said. “I didn’t know if I’d have a chance at winning, if there was going to be someone really good in 3A. But I’m just ecstatic that I was able to come out and play my best tennis and go home winning. It’s just really exciting”
In front of him was the Eagles Leong. The senior entered his first State Title appearance and was able to get two points on a jittery Moore as the two tennis players adjusted to the demands and the loud crowd that surrounded Court 10 Saturday afternoon at Oregon State University.
“It’s a little bit of a different atmosphere, but I think I acclimated towards the end. It was tough, but I’m glad I made it,” Leong describes. “(This was) pretty cool actually. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s fun to have an opportunity to play in front of all these people, it’s not an everyday thing.”
“It was really just really settling in and trying to get comfortable with the whole environment. Just trying to get comfortable with the spotlight being on you, it’s a whole different situation and environment,” adds Moore. “Just trying to settle in and try to shake the rust off and getting into a rhythm.”
It was a 5-2 match in the first set when Moore settled in to take the match 6-2. Moore’s athleticism adjusted to what Leong threw his away, but Leong didn’t go down without a fight as the senior Eagle tennis player pulled even with Moore at 40-40 after being down 30-15. Faced with the possibility of making history and faced with a late-set rally, Moore got the next two points to clinch the victory.
For Moore. His celebration wasn’t as elaborate as Isaac Schnepp’s and Austin Thatchers last week when they won the District Title in Salem, but instead he looked over to his teammates and Coach in Justin Amaya and gave a smile and a fist-pump. A few times throughout the match Moore gave a fist-pump as he tried to regain his focus after a big point.
The win, in a way, killed two birds with one stone. On one end, he made school history while snapping the district drought with the State Championship win in the process.
“It’s crazy,” smiles Moore. “I love going to Cascade, it’s a great school. It hasn’t been a huge tennis program over there, but it’s still exciting to see and be able to represent it and be able to get a win for them.”
Now that the hunter will be the hunted and Moore will have the target on his back in the Singles circuit as a senior, he knows he’ll have to adjust. All in while knowing that this day, this moment showed him that he’s capable of achieving this. And that confidence can go a long way.
“It definitely showed me that I’m capable of playing my best tennis on one of the highest stages of High School. It definitely showed me that I can come back again next year and I’m sure everyone is going home, trying to improve and a target on my back next year. But I think I have a chance next year and I’m excited to see what happens next year. Now it’s going back to practicing,” Moore said.
The Cascade Boys Tennis team finished fourth as a team as Schnepp and Thatcher reached the Consolation Semi-Finals before falling to Teddy Benbow and Noah Aynes of Philomath. The Cougar girls finished fourth as a a team too with Ariel Tobiasson and Marilyn Suelzle finished third in the girls Doubles Tournament as the Cascade girls finished fourth as a team as well.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald