Winning the district team championship last season and placing fifth at the state tournament, the Philomath High girls tennis team returns a solid lineup of players that should do some good things on the court this spring.
The Warriors look very strong at No. 1 and No. 2 singles with Bailey Bell and Adele Beckstead back in the fold for their junior seasons.
“We’ve got the top back with Bailey Bell and Adele Beckstead, who last year were at least the No. 1 and No. 3 girls in our league,” Thorson said. “Adele had to face Bailey in the semis so she finished third but I think she was the second-best player. So we have the top two and they’re still underclassmen.”
Bell most often blanked her opponents in regional duals and remarked how she enjoyed the more competitive environment that the state tournament provided. She ended up placing fourth at state with a close 6-4, 6-4 loss in the third-place match.
Beckstead, meanwhile, lost early but had a nice run through the consolation bracket during her appearance at state. She defeated three straight opponents in convincing fashion, including a 6-2, 6-0 victory in the consolation final.
“The only thing I’m not sure about is No. 3 and 4 singles and who’s going to wind up there for sure,” Thorson said.
Senior Phoebe Dodson represents a third state-qualifying athlete returning from last season for Philomath. Dodson played doubles with K Bacho and won one of three matches in the 4A/3A/2A/1A finale.
“Our first doubles team will have a good shot at going to state and maybe even our second doubles team does,” Thorson said.
Several other players that have contributed in the past are back as well, a list that includes juniors Daniella Carlisle, Elise Reese, Megan Reese and Lorelei Schell.
“So we have some girls coming back,” Thorson said, adding that the roster also features some newcomers.
“We have five freshmen girls out, which is good, but none of them have played before,” Thorson said. “But they’re good athletes, so that’ll help, and we’ll have some new girls at the third and fourth levels.”
The five freshmen include Lacey Bacho, Olivia Cole, Logan Cook, Makayla Lillie and Lucie Oster.
“We also have a senior that’s never been out before but she’s a pretty good athlete,” said Thorson, referring to Mia Cook. Others in the program include senior Stella Neville, junior Nadia Durski and sophomore Lillian Hansen.
As of this past Wednesday, Philomath’s roster featured 16 girls.
“I’d like to have 20 every year — that would be perfect,” Thorson said about the numbers. “Not for practices but for development. We had about 24 last year and it was a little too many.”
The girls are scheduled to have a busy stretch during their first week — unless rain washes them away. The season opens Monday at Lebanon and then on Tuesday, the Warriors will be off to Catlin Gabel. On Friday, the team is slated to make its home debut with a dual against Silverton.
“We’re trying to upgrade our competition to help our girls who will wind up going to state — get them a little bit better competition,” Thorson said. “Especially with our No. 2 singles girl and with Bailey, she lost only two games last year in the district.”
The addition of Marist Catholic to the region provides a new challenge,
“We’ll do fine in dual meets,” Thorson said. “There may be some teams that are stronger in the lower ends that might get us but we’ll see. I anticipate having a good district team.”
Thorson begins his second season as the coach of the girls tennis team.
“Cascade lost quite a few players but they’re near Salem and they have a club there so you never know who they’re going to get,” Thorson said. “Molalla’s been a good team, although they have a new coach now. Marist will be solid and Stayton — we didn’t play them last year but they’ll be fine.”
Joining Thorson on the coaching staff again this season as an assistant is Sammi Lehmann.