The Philomath High School girls tennis team embraced the challenge of the 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 2 tournament last week, bringing home a championship trophy while qualifying two singles players and a doubles team for state.
Sophomore Bailey Bell performed up to her No. 1 seed by defeating Sisters sophomore Juhree Kizziar in the finals, 6-0, 6-1.
“It was not even that close, although the other girl played well but Bailey is just so tough,” PHS girls tennis coach Greg Thorson said. “They played some pretty long rallies and she (Kizziar) made a few good points but Bailey was just better on her game.”
Joining Bell at state Friday and Saturday at Oregon State University will be freshman singles player Adele Beckstead and the doubles pair of senior K Bacho and junior Phoebe Dodson.
Bell’s toughest match in the district tournament came in the semifinals against teammate Beckstead, 6-2, 6-3.
“Finest high school match of girls that I’ve ever seen,” Thorson said, a statement that carries some weight with all of the matches he’s coached through the years. “They just went toe-to-toe at each other, they were crushing the ball and they were both just making great shots. Bailey’s just got more experience but Adele just gave her everything she could’ve asked for.”
Bell was unchallenged in earlier matches with 6-0, 6-0 wins over opponents from Sisters and Woodburn. Beckstead rolled as well with victories over opponents from Madras (6-0, 6-1), Estacada (6-3, 6-2) and Molalla (6-1, 6-1). In the third-place match, Beckstead had little trouble with third-seeded Laina Atiyeh, a freshman from Stayton, 6-1, 6-0.
The first round was played Tuesday at Madras before the tournament moved to the Salem Tennis and Swim Club on Thursday and Friday.
In doubles, Bacho and Dodson posted wins over opponents from Sisters (6-0, 6-2), Estacada (6-1, 6-0) and Maras (6-3, 6-4) to reach the semifinals.
“They played really well in their first three matches,” Thorson said. “I mean, Phoebe Dodson has never played before — this is the first year. And K has played but this they had a couple of seasons where she hardly got to play, so they’ve really just been getting better and better and at times, they’re brilliant and at other times … they make unforced errors, which is typical of young players.”
Estacada’s Maria Portillo de Mueller and Garica Munoz, the eventual champions, beat Bacho and Dodson in the semis, 6-3, 6-3. Thorson said Portillo de Mueller and Munoz are foreign-exchange students that had been playing singles until districts and as a result, were unseeded with no previous results to go on. The Estacada pair beat the top-seeded team in three sets in the quarterfinals and the second-seeded team 6-0, 6-0 in the championship match.
Bacho and Dodson dropped a 6-3, 6-2 decision to third-seeded Kassidy Strand and Charlotte Ritchie of Stayton in the third-place match to settle for fourth.
The team’s No. 2 doubles pair, sophomores Nadia Durski and Lorelei Schell, advanced past the first round before falling to Estacada’s Portillo de Mueller and Munoz. The team’s other two doubles teams exited the championship bracket in the first round with sophomore Abigail Workman and junior Stella Neville falling to a Molalla opponent (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Elise Reese and freshman Heidi Bacho dropping a match to a Cascade pair (8-0). Workman and Neville went on to win a couple of matches in consolations.
In singles, Thorson lauded the efforts of sophomore Daniella Carlisle, who won two matches and added to the team point total. Even in a loss to the eventual runner-up, Carlisle played well, the coach said, despite a 6-1, 6-0 score.
Carlisle reached the semifinals with wins over opponents from Stayton (6-2, 6-1) and Molalla (6-0, 6-0).
Sophomore Megan Reese lost in the first round of the championship bracket but fought back through consolations to win three straight, Thorson said. She lost in the consolation finals but earned the team another point.
Scores from the consolation bracket were not available.