The Philomath High School girls tennis program will send its top two singles players and top doubles team to the state tournament next week.
Junior Bailey Bell headlines the group of state qualifiers with her third straight district tournament singles title. Sophomore Adele Beckstead finished runner-up and also punched her ticket. The doubles team of senior Phoebe Dodson and junior Daniella Carlisle placed fourth and advanced as well.
The 4A/3A/2A/1A State Championships are scheduled for May 19-20 at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
In the team race, Marist had too much depth for the Warriors and took first place with 34 points. Philomath settled for runner-up with 29 points. Cascade was third with 24.
Bell was pretty much unchallenged in her run to the district title, defeating opponents from Junction City, Marist Catholic and Cascade all by 6-0, 6-0 margins to cruise into the semifinals. For the first time this season, a district opponent took a game off Bell but the Philomath standout still won easily over Stayton’s Laina Atiyeh, 6-0, 6-1, to put her in the championship match.
Meanwhile, Beckstead was disposing of opponents in the same dominant fashion. In her first three matches, Beckstead beat opponents from Creswell, Cascade and Stayton, 6-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, she defeated Marist Catholic’s Christina Nguyen, 6-0, 6-3, to earn a shot at the title.
The Philomath teammates battled in the district tournament for the second straight year. In last year’s district semifinals, Bell took a 6-2, 6-3 win in a competitive match. This year, Bell won by a 6-1, 6-1 count.
Bell and Beckstead head to the OSAA-sanctioned state tournament for the second straight year. When Bell was a freshman, she qualified for the 4A Showcase tournament — an alternative to the official state tournament that was canceled during the COVID-interrupted season.
Dodson and Carlisle got through the tournament’s first two days unbeaten. Victories early on came over opponents from Stayton (6-0, 6-2), Marist Catholic (6-1, 6-1) and Cascade (6-7, 6-1, 6-2). The three-set win over the Cougars’ Kahryn Delamarter and Karson Shank was especially thrilling for the PHS pair because it qualified them for state no matter what happened on the final day.
In the semifinals, Dodson and Carlisle lost to Cascade’s Marilyn Suelzle and Rachel Suelzle in one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. The loss put them in the third-place match against Marist’s Tyler Harding of Haley Ross. The Marist pair took the first set 6-2 and was leading 4-2 in the second set when Carlisle became ill and couldn’t finish. The result goes down as a default win for the Spartans.
Marist freshmen Phoebie Larson and Stella Larson, which came into the tournament unseeded, won the doubles championship match over Cascade’s Marilyn and Rachel Suelzle, 7-5, 6-0.
This will be the second straight trip to state for Dodson as part of a doubles team. Last year, she made it with teammate K Bacho.
Philomath junior Megan Reese came up short in her bid for state but she put together an impressive run in the consolation bracket. After falling to a Marist opponent in the first round, Reese went into consolations and defeated four straight opponents under eight-game pro-set rules — 8-4, 8-2, 8-1 and 8-1. That last win came in the consolation semis over Estacada’s Madeline Clements.
In the consolation championship match, Reese went up against North Marion senior Allyson Chamberland and lost by a 6-2, 6-1 count.
Junior Elise Reese fell in the first round to a Molalla opponent and also went into the consolation bracket. There, defeated a Junction City opponent, 9-8, before falling to a Cascade player, 8-1.
The state championships matches next Friday and Saturday will both begin at 8 a.m. on OSU courts. In case of inclement weather, matches will be moved to Timberhill Tennis Club.