PHS junior Bailey Bell had no problems with her opponent Thursday against Cascade in a 6-0, 6-0 victory. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

The tennis serve undoubtedly is one of the most important shots for a player to master. When stepping up to the line, the player has complete control in that moment. The serve can dictate the flow of the match and with proper execution can lead to a lot of points.

Philomath High junior Bailey Bell works hard on her game with a strategy that includes effective serving.

“I’m working on a lot of things that I worked on over the offseason and trying to put those to work in matches,” Bell said after defeating her No. 1 singles opponent from Cascade Thursday afternoon, 6-0, 6-0. “That’s been going really well. I’ve been working on developing more of a kick serve and getting to the net more and stuff like that with my dad so it’s been good.”

In tennis, a kick serve can be challenging for players on the receiving end based on topspin and sidespin. If the first attempt fails, Bell doesn’t feel any overwhelming pressure to get the second serve in.

Said Bell, “I practice my second serve a lot in practice so I feel confident with it in matches.”

Philomath’s Adele Beckstead, the team’s No. 2 singles player who won 6-0, 6-0 against Cascade, also sees a significant amount of success on the tennis court. Asked about how she approaches her second serve, the PHS sophomore said, “I’ve been trying to work on getting more spin just to keep it in rather than hitting the new too much.”

Phoebe Dodson, left, and Daniella Carlisle won at No. 1 doubles vs. Cascade, 6-0, 6-3. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath won the dual over Cascade, 4-3, with one match suspended when rain started to fall in the late afternoon. Even if the Warriors had lost that match, they still would’ve claimed victory with the tiebreaker advantage.

In addition to the Bell and Beckstead wins, Philomath’s Megan Reese posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 4 singles. The No. 3 singles match involving Elise Reese was the one that concluded early. At the time play was suspended, her opponent was leading the third set, 4-1. Reese won the first set, 7-6 (7-5) and lost the second, 6-3.

The No. 1 doubles team of Phoebe Dodson and Daniella Carlisle took care of their opponents, 6-0, 6-3.

Cascade won the other three doubles matches, including a very competitive No. 2 showdown. Nadia Durski and Lorelei Schell were in it the whole way but came up short, 6-3, 7-5.

Bailey Bell, left, and Adele Beckstead could smile after they both won their singles matches, 6-0, 6-0. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

In Bell and Beckstead, the Warrior girls have one of the top 1-2 singles combinations in the Class 4A. Playing each other in practice hasn’t happened much this spring with limited opportunities to play outside.

“It’s rained a lot so we haven’t done many practices but she’s a lot of fun to hit with,” Beckstead said.

Said Bell, “We push each other a lot and I think that’s really helped me over the last few seasons.”

The pair would like to punch their tickets to state again this season. At least five duals remain before the district tournament arrives in May.

“I think I’m just looking forward to state and getting more competition,” Bell said. “I know there’s some good players that I’ll face there and districts will be good just to play a lot of matches.”

Bell’s record this season in the No. 1 singles spot has been impressive with all coming out as wins except for a loss to North Bend’s Raegan Farm.

“This girl goes around the West Coast and plays tournaments and she’s just on another level,” Thorson said about the North Bend girl. “If a couple of deuce games had gone a little differently, maybe the girl starts playing with a little pressure … but she’s a really good player.”

Philomath sophomore Adele Beckstead remained undefeated Thursday with another victory at No. 2 singles. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Beckstead, who is undefeated this season, takes it one match at a time.

“You never know when you’re going to run into a really good opponent,” she said. “Or, it just always depends on the day, too.”

Beckstead’s closest match came in an early-season match against Catlin Gabel’s Jiya Mehta, 6-3, 7-5.

“The girl’s probably going to play No. 1 for Catlin Gabel — she was just a freshman,” Thorson said.

Beckstead increased her workload in athletics this spring by joining the track team. Just this past weekend at the Philomath Invite, she ran the 3,000-meter run that landed her at No. 12 on the school’s all-time list in the event.

“It’s been interesting trying to work the two together,” Beckstead said. “But we’ve been balancing it so that when it rains, I can go to track or when it’s sunny, you go to tennis.”

PHS coach Greg Thorson chats with No. 4 singles player Megan Reese during a timeout. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Bell serves as the team captain and she embraces the responsibility to help other players. In Thursday’s match against Cascade, she shared her perspectives with No. 3 singles player Elise Reese, who was involved in a marathon match against her opponent.

“The captains can coach and she just knows a lot,” Thorson said. “I put her on our singles player down there and she takes care of it and I can handle these three courts.”

The Warriors are scheduled to play again on Friday with a trip to Molalla. The team won’t appear on the home courts again until April 27.

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.