PHS junior Bailey Bell returns a shot against Silverton's Millie Leikem in a 6-0, 6-0 win on Friday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Falling on the home court Friday afternoon against visiting Silverton, the Philomath High girls tennis team finished its first week with a 1-2 record. But don’t feel too bad for the Warriors with Greg Thorson’s squad taking on some of the top tennis talent in the state.

“Silverton, that’s a very good team … they actually beat CV last year in a dual match,” said Thorson, referring to the strong 5A Crescent Valley squad that won state in 2022. “We lost 2-6 but I felt good about it.”

Philomath started the season Tuesday with a 5-3 loss in Portland to Catlin Gabel, the defending 4A state champions. The team followed with a 6-2 road victory Wednesday over a 5A opponent in Lebanon before the 6-2 loss in its home opener Friday to Silverton, another 5A school.

“We have four kids that have never played tennis and they all play varsity,” Thorson said. “So that’s a hard way to start but you know, they’re really learning and I want them to just concentrate on getting better every day — forget the score and get better every day — and they really are.”

From an individual perspective, Philomath High’s top two singles players have started the season with three straight victories. Junior Bailey Bell continued her perfect streak to start 2023 with another 6-0, 6-0 win. Bell defeated her Catlin Gabel and Lebanon opponents by those same scores.

Philomath High sophomore Adele Beckstead hits a forehand during a 6-1, 6-3 win over Silverton’s Kaitlyn Gehring. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Sophomore Adele Beckstead took a 6-1, 6-3 win against her Foxes opponent for her third consecutive straight-set victory.

“Our top two girls dominated because they’re two of the best in the state,” Thorson said.

Junior Elise Reese was competitive at No. 3 singles but came up short, 6-4, 6-4. And at No. 4 singles, junior Megan Reese lost by a 6-2, 6-2 margin.

Silverton swept the doubles matches. Senior Phoebe Dodson and junior Daniella Carlisle pushed their opponents in the first set at No. 1 doubles in a 6-4, 6-1 loss.

“They have a very good No. 1 doubles team,” Thorson said. “Our doubles team — this is the first year they’ve been together and they’re starting to gel. I liked what they did.”

Second-year coach Greg Thorson chats with doubles players Daniella Carlisle and Phoebe Dodson through the fence in between sets on Friday against Silverton. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The most competitive doubles match of the afternoon occurred at No. 2 with juniors Lorelei Schell and Nadia Durski falling to their opponents, 6-4, 6-3. Senior Mia Cook and freshman Lucie Oster at No. 3 and sophomore Lillian Hansen and freshman Makayla Lillie at No. 4 dropped their matches.

All of Philomath’s doubles teams are a work in progress as those athletes learn to play with each other and work on their skills.

“They’re just learning to play,” Thorson said. “They actually did really well for as many days as they’ve had on the courts.”

Philomath is scheduled to play at home again on Monday against Dallas and then on Tuesday at South Albany — both of those schools also coming from the 5A classification. Later in the week on Thursday, the Warriors hit the road for matches against Marshfield and North Bend to give them seven duals in 10 days to open the season.

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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