The Women Crusader Tennis team entered the Districts as the youngest, by far, of the ten teams competing to earn a spot in the State Tournament. All ten of the players for St. Mary’s were freshmen or sophomores, but this did not stop them from having an excellent tournament with several upsets that altered the overall shape of play.
Anais Fang and Jenny Nguyen, playing together for the first time, played a strong first match before falling (8-10) in a third set tie-breaker. In the consolation bracket they won their first match (8-0) before ending their season with a (4-8) loss against a strong Hidden Valley duo.
Megan Nelson and TaylorRose Tavares controlled their second round match with a solid (6-4 6-2) win against one of the strongest teams in the tournament. The match was one of the most solid performances by a St. Mary’s squad all season. Unfortunately, their tough draw forced them to play another high quality opponent in the third round and their season ended.
Zoe Alftine and and Susanna Scahtz sailed through their first two rounds without losing a game. In the third round they faced the number four seed, and eventual state qualifier, team from Henley. Early in the match the older and stronger Henley duo seemed to intimidate the Crusaders, but Alftine and Schatz bounced back in the second set and were two points from victory when rain came and forced a stoppage of play. The matches were moved indoors where St. Mary’s held on and forced a tie-breaker before bowing out for the season.
In the singles draw, Leah Sternenberg dominated her first round opponent in the first round, winning (6-3 6-0). Her sophomore season came to an end in the second round after losing a very tough match to a very good player from Klamath Union.
Eve VonStrahl needed a tie-breaker in the first set to help win in the second round a player from Klamath Union in a match that was one of the longest in the entire tournament. She then played North Bends top single and fell badly behind, losing the first set (0-6). VonStrahl regained her focus and won the second set (7-5) and then took the third set tie-breaker (10-6). She had little time to rest before playing Henley’s top single, a player who had been to the state tournament last year as part of a doubles team and was now seeking to make it on her own. VonStrahl played a strong match but fell short of becoming a state qualifier.
Alicia Lu has faced top caliber competition all season in preparation to make a run to the state championship, but to do so she would have to win without the benefit of an early round bye that the top players in the tournament had earned. In her first round match she was forced into a tie-breaker that she won (15-13), in a two hour match. After a short rest, Lu played her second match of the day, winning (6-0 6-0), and then had a thirty minute break before playing against the number four seed, who was well rested and had not yet played a match. Lu’s weariness showed in the first set, which she lost (4-6), but she dug deep and became re-energized in the second set, winning (6-2), and then taking the tie-breaker (10-5). After three matches, and more than five hours of tennis, Lu still had one match to play to qualify for state, but that had to wait until Saturday. In the first match of the day, Lu started slowly, dropping the first set (2-6) but she stormed back in the second set, forcing a tie-breaker. Unfortunately, Lu lost the tie-breaker (5-7), and she fell just short of taking a trip to Corvallis.
All year the young Crusader squad focused on improvement and developing a love for the game. There was much talk about next year, but next year almost came early for several members of the team. The other teams in the district are now well aware that St. Mary’s squad will be one that needs to be reckoned with all season.
The coaching team from Henley ran the tournament and did a remarkable job adjusting to constant changes in weather that forced several moves from the outdoor courts to indoor ones.