Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
BEAVERTON — Hanna Greenberg and Vika O'Brien continued their dominance of 5A girls doubles and Ashley Knecht's surprise run landed her a spot in the third-place singles match as Ashland High put itself in position to grab the program's second team title at the girls state tennis tournament Friday at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.
Greenberg and O'Brien, the defending state champions and top seeds, won two matches in straight sets to improve to 20-0 on the season and advance to the doubles final. Another win today against unseeded Claire and Julie Meunier of Crescent Valley will give the Grizzlies their first-ever repeat state champion in either doubles or singles and clinch the school's first team title since 1986, when Ashland tied for first.
"That would be incredible," Ashland head coach Gail Patton said. "That would be icing on the cake if it happens (today) and I would celebrate on the way home, but we have two more matches. I always like to go home on a positive note and that's what we're planning on."
Knecht, a sophomore, followed her second-round upset of No. 2 seed Lindsey Brodeck with a quarterfinal win over Jessica Clark of Pendleton, 6-1, 6-3, before falling in the semifinals to third-seeded Madisyn Bryant of Marist, 6-1, 6-0. Knecht will face Marilyn Walker of Churchill in the third-place match today at 10:15 a.m.
The Greenberg-O'Brien duo was hardly challenged in second-round and quarterfinal routs, but handled a little adversity in the semifinals. After winning the first set and taking a 4-1 lead in the second, they let their guard down and nearly allowed their fourth-seeded opponents to even the match. Maysa Shakibnia and Alana Chaplin of Corvallis stormed back to tie the second set at 4-4, but Greenberg, a junior, and O'Brien, a sophomore, broke serve to reclaim the lead then clinched their second straight trip to the doubles final on Greenberg's serve for a 6-0, 6-4 win.
"Instead of just playing aggressive, how they got there, they just said, 'OK, we'll be careful and make sure we don't make errors,' and that's the kiss of death," Patton said. "It was sort of a wake-up call. It showed that you have to keep that aggressiveness. If you get soft at all, if you get complacent, things can change in a hurry."
Ashland, which placed second last season, has 12 team points heading into the final day. Second-place Crescent Valley has nine points.
In the 5A boys state tournament at Portland Tennis Center, Ashland's Grant Kahn was eliminated by third-seeded Nathan Hampton of Churchill in the singles quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-2, and Max Burt and Michael Montes, the Grizzlies' top doubles team, fell in the quarterfinals to top-seeded Austin Tyner and AJ Bartko of Marist, 6-0, 6-0.
Ashland freshman Mischa Kirby lost in the first round of the consolation bracket to Franklin Truong of Franklin, 8-6.
In Class 6A girls singles, South Medford freshman Kelsey Bartlett won two matches to advance into today's consolation finals.
Bartlett will face Roseburg's Fiona Johnson for the consolation championship.
Bartlett defeated Caitlan Baker of McMinnville, 8-4, in the quarterfinals, then in the semifinals got past North Salem's Maribel Ocampo, 8-4.