In his final appearance competing for Philomath High School on the home courts Friday afternoon, senior Dawson Beckstead took just 28 minutes to defeat his Stayton opponent in dominating fashion, 6-0, 6-0.
Meanwhile, two courts away at No. 1 doubles, senior Teddy Benbow and junior Sawyer Ainsworth battled for 2-1/2 hours in a key district showdown against Stayton senior Liam Rutherford and junior Jake Anderson. The Eagles pair pulled out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win in a match that was much closer than the score indicates.
Gallery: PHS boys tennis vs. Stayton (April 28, 2023)
A collection of photos from Philomath High’s boys tennis dual vs. Stayton on
Those two extremes were a part of Philomath’s 7-1 win over Stayton. In 10 days, the Special District 2 tournament will get started and Philomath’s No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles team will be in serious contention for a trip to state.
“Marist changes the whole dynamic of our district and they will win it,” PHS coach Gary Quandt said about regionals. “They will be in contention for the state championship as well.”
In singles, Cascade senior Zach Moore hasn’t been touched this season and will be heavily favored to repeat as state champion. As Quandt said, Marist Catholic will be in the mix as well.
“Dawson’s been in the finals in each of the last two regionals and if he gets seeded fourth, I’m going to be pretty happy,” Quandt said. “You throw in Marist and now everything changes.”
The Philomath-Stayton battle at No. 1 doubles could’ve been a preview of what’s to come at regionals with those two teams likely battling for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Marist’s top two doubles teams will have a say on how things shake out.
The Warriors swept the singles matches with junior Andrew Leonard (6-0, 6-4), sophomore Jackson Rice (6-2, 6-2) and junior Owen Thomas (6-0, 6-2) all performing well on a toasty afternoon. In doubles, PHS posted wins at No. 2 with junior Gradin Fairbanks freshman Lane Schell (7-5, 6-2), at No. 3 with sophomore Jackson Holroyd and junior Osvaldo Garcia-Bazan (6-4, 6-3) and at No. 4 with freshman Johnny Pickett and junior Nicholas Purcell (6-0, 6-0).
Leonard, who thrives on power shots for winners, a strong forehead and fast serves, had a solid hold on No. 2 singles this season and won all but one of his district matches. Friday afternoon’s victory came over Stayton sophomore Hyatt Dirkx, 6-0, 6-4.
“Sometimes I struggle with playing down to my opponent’s skill level or just not playing as well as I could,” Leonard said. “Some of that’s the weather or how I’m feeling but it wasn’t a super difficult opponent. He just kept it going for some of the points and that made it a little difficult.”
With the level of competition in Special District 2, Leonard will be a long shot to reach the state tournament. The top four singles players out of regionals will advance.
“I’m looking forward to it to see how good I can do,” Leonard said. “It’s unlikely that I’ll go to state, which is what I was hoping for this year, but I’m still looking to have a good time and try to play well and improve.”
Friday’s match, which was a makeup from a rainout earlier this season, was the league finale for the Warriors. Philomath finished second in Special District 2 behind Marist Catholic with a 5-1 record. Overall the Warriors have an 11-3 record and will play May 4 at South Albany as a tuneup for the regional tournament.
Regionals are scheduled for May 8 at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis and May 11-12 at the Salem Tennis and Swim Club. The regional tournament is spread out over three days because the Oregon School Activities Activities allows a maximum of two matches each day. The top four singles players and top four doubles teams will qualify for state May 19-20 at Oregon State University.