The Philomath High School girls tennis team qualified its top singles player and two doubles teams to the state tournament out of the final day of action Friday at Black Butte Ranch but beyond those individual accomplishments, the Warriors pulled off a notable accomplishment.
The Warrior girls won their first-ever district team title.
“All of our kids we needed, we needed every single win because we only beat Cascade by one match win for the team title,” head coach Gary Quandt said. “So every match counted all the way down the line here from all four doubles teams to the singles teams that won matches — we needed everything.”
The margin of victory over Cascade was 36-34.
The Philomath boys also saw success with their top two doubles teams and top two singles players advancing to state, which will run Monday at Umpqua Valley Tennis Club in Roseburg and Tuesday at Marist Catholic in Eugene.
“It gives our kids a chance to play good competition and play another couple of days,” Quandt said.
The tournament, which is not OSAA sanctioned, is a 4A-only event. Quandt said there will be no consolation bracket, just championship rounds with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Monday and then the semifinals and finals on Tuesday.
As expected, PHS freshman Bailey Bell had a rematch with Corbett freshman Susanna Anand. The two had a very close match during the regular season with Bell pushed to three sets in a 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 victory. In the district finals, Bell won in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 — coming from behind in the second set tiebreaker.
“The girl she played in the finals hits the ball harder and makes a few more spectacular shots but Bailey’s just a more steady player,” Quandt said.
Bell had reached the finals with a win over Juhree Kizziar of Sisters in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-0.
Quandt said although she’s just a freshman, Bell’s presence on the court has thrust her into the role of team leader.
“She’s great in practice and hits with the other kids, she’s got a great attitude,” Quandt said. “She’s competitive, she’s got a good game and not arrogant or anything, she’s very humble … she sets the tone for the kids. The kids look up to her but it’s just her quiet leadership and it’s pretty neat.”
The team’s No. 1 doubles team of Atira Fairbanks and Chloe Jurva qualified for state as well. They defeated opponents from Cascade in the semifinals but lost in the championship match to Molalla, 6-3, 6-0. Fairbanks and Jurva had lost to the pair during the regular season although it was closer in the first meeting.
“I think with the two days driving over there to Black Butte, playing all these matches, I just think they ran out of gas in that last match, but they played well,” Quandt said.
K Bacho and Lily Schell earned a trip to state as well and defeated teammates Nadia Durski and Lorelei Schell along the way for the berth. For the girls, the district only got seven spots for the state tournament and so there was a 5-6-7-8 playoff to determine the last three that would make it.
Singles player Sierra Johnson was among those that lost out on a chance to advance by coming up short in the playoff after the quarterfinals.
“Unfortunately, they only have seven spots at the state tournament so everybody lost one in the quarterfinals … The boys didn’t have that problem because they let eight boys into the state tournament,” Quandt explained. “So that was kinda disappointing. It happens, that’s the way the ball bounces.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Dylan Bell and Nick Stucki highlighted the boys results as they continued their perfect run through the season. In the semifinals, Bell and Stucki defeated teammates Judah Bacho and Mark Grimmer, 6-1, 6-3, and then downed a pair from Cascade, 6-4, 6-4, in the finals.
Bell and Stucki have lost only one set this season. Bacho and Grimmer also advance to state and represent somewhat of a surprise if seedings are to be believed.
Also headed to state are singles players Dawson Beckstead and Andrew Leonard. Beckstead lost to Nate Weber of Sisters in the semifinals, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 and then regrouped to win his third-place match over North Marion’s Gage Hurst in straight sets. Leonard didn’t play Friday but qualified by reaching the quarterfinals as one of the top eight.
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