Rolling to another two-set victory on Tuesday afternoon against visiting Woodburn, Philomath High freshman Adele Beckstead has proven to be a very strong singles player this spring for the girls tennis program.
Teammate Bailey Bell, who reached the 4A State Showcase championship match last season and appears to be on a trajectory this year that will only enhance her postseason résumé, holds down the No. 1 singles spot for the Warriors. However, Beckstead is right there with a level of talent that continues to develop but is already producing exceptional results.
“We haven’t seen everybody in the league but I honestly believe she’s one of the top four players in the region,” PHS girls tennis coach Greg Thorson said as the Warriors beat Woodburn, 8-0. “I think she’ll prove that and wind up going to state but we’ll see, you never know.”
Beckstead is unbeaten so far this season and although she has dominated most of those matches, she has been challenged on occasion. Estacada, for example, moved its No. 1 singles player, a foreign-exchange student, down to No. 2 and Beckstead won 6-3, 6-4. Last weekend against Klamath Union, the coach said she was challenged even though the final score indicated dominance.
“Adele’s match was very competitive even though the score wasn’t,” Thorson said. “The girl hit a lot of shots and was very athletic and made Adele work at hitting winners, which she was up to doing. She sharpened her game.”
The majority of Beckstead’s wins haven’t been close.
“She’s played other girls that are not as skilled,” Thorson said. “The nice thing is they have each other to practice with, which Bailey didn’t have last year.”
Beckstead said she’s been playing competitive tennis for about 3-1/2 years now and said her strength is hitting topspin while playing mostly on the baseline.
“Every match is competitive in its own way,” Beckstead said after defeating her Woodburn opponent, 6-1, 6-0. “I like being able to hit against different opponents … just getting to hit against different styles … it helps me work on my form, areas that maybe I want to work on.”
Thorson said it will be interesting to see if the district tournament will be seeding No. 2s because Beckstead would obviously be in that situation. Unless Bell stumbles in an upcoming match, she will likely be seeded in the top position for the tournament.
A possible challenger to Bell for the district tournament could be a Cascade player who took a set off of the Philomath standout last season. But Thorson said she was moved to No. 1 doubles.
“I think a lot of people are like, ‘we can’t beat Bailey so why stay in’ so let’s stack up the doubles,” Thorson said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Against Woodburn on Tuesday, Bell defeated her opponent, 6-0, 6-0. Daniella Carlisle at No. 3 singles took a 6-0, 6-1 victory and Megan Reese in the No. 4 slot was a 6-2, 6-2 winner.
Philomath also swept the doubles matches, although there was competition at No. 2 and No. 3. Nadia Durski and Lorelei Schell came back to defeat their opponents, 5-7, 7-5, 10-4. Sophie Robinson and Stella Neville took a similar route to victory with a 4-6, 6-4, 10-3 final. Heidi Bacho and Elise Reese won at No. 4 singles, 6-0, 6-1.
In the No. 1 spot, Phoebe Dodson and K Bacho have discovered a rhythm on the court to continue posting victories. Against the Bulldogs, they rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 win.
“Right now, I’m blown away with my No. 1 doubles team,” Thorson said. “In the last week, they have really begun to put it together.”
The pair’s development comes at a good time of the season with the stretch run in sight. Thorson said Dodson brought a great deal of athleticism to the court “but she was trying to overdo everything and hit the ball too hard.” Bacho, meanwhile, is playing in a higher position than in previous seasons and had a slow start this spring with missing some time early.
But Dodson’s settled down and Bacho is starting to put it together, Thorson said.
“They looked really good today,” he said. “They’re beginning to understand doubles play … they have a real shot at making state.”
Philomath is scheduled to play at 4 p.m. Thursday at Stayton to finish out this week and then will play three straight days next week — May 3 at Cascade, May 4 at home vs. Sisters and May 5 at Corvallis.
Rainouts and rescheduled matches have become the norm this spring — actually, it’s pretty much the norm every spring. Asked if the disruptions in the schedule have thrown off any momentum, Beckstead said matter-of-factly, “You have to be ready to play any day.”