Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Ashland High's Hanna Greenberg and Vika O'Brien won their second straight Class 5A state doubles championship and helped the Grizzlies claim their second-ever team title at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton on Saturday.
Greenberg and O'Brien lived up to their No. 1 seed, overpowering unseeded Claire and Julie Meunier of Crescent Valley in the championship match, 6-1, 6-2, to cap a perfect 21-0 season and become the first doubles team in Ashland history to claim back-to-back state titles.
That win ended up serving as icing on the cake for the Grizzlies, who had already clinched the team title earlier in the day when Ashley Knecht beat Marilyn Walker of Churchill in the third-place match, 6-4, 6-0.
"The moment Ashley came off the court, I told her, 'You just clinched the title for us,'" Ashland head coach Gail Patton said. "First (the players) were surprised, then excited."
Ashland's perfect final day allowed the Grizzlies to pull away in the final team standings with 15 points, five more than runners-up Crescent Valley and Marist. The Grizzlies, who finished second last year, claimed their only other state championship in 1986, and that was a tie for first.
In 6A girls tennis action, South Medford freshman Kelsey Bartlett defeated Roseburg junior Fiona Johnson, 6-4, 6-3, to claim the singles consolation championship. After losing in the first round, Bartlett won three straight consolation matches to go out with a bang.
Like in their previous 20 wins, Greenberg, a junior, and O'Brien, a sophomore, did not need a third set to finish off the Meuniers, who began the tournament by knocking out the No. 3 seeds, Zoey Garcia and Sara Hawman of Hermiston. Ashland's top doubles team took control early, winning the first four games before closing out the first set. The second set was only slightly more competitive.
The match looked like it might be a good one very early on when the Meuniers took a lead in the opening game and played the Greenberg-O'Brien duo tough. But Greenberg and O'Brien came back to win the first game, then quickly earned the first of many service breaks.
"That sort of took the wind out of (the Meuniers') sails a little bit," Patton said. "Whenever Crescent Valley sort of felt like they might get a tiny bit of momentum, (Greenberg and O'Brien) shut it down. I told them to stay aggressive — if you make an error, make an aggressive error. Do not let them think that they have any chance to get back in the match."
They didn't, and Greenberg and O'Brien walked off the court as state champions again, this time with a more subdued, been-there-done-that celebration.
"They were humble and happy — I think they were soaking it all in," Patton said. "I think Monday at school, when they make the announcement ... I think then it will really sink in, the accomplishment. And that was their goal from the beginning."
Knecht completed one of the more surprising turns in Beaverton, beating Walker, a senior, two days after Knecht knocked out the No. 2 seed, Lindsey Brodeck of Summit, in straight sets.
Midwestern League rivals, Knecht and Walker had split their previous two encounters this season, with Walker prevailing in the most recent meeting in the district semifinals.
This time, it was Knecht's turn. She wiggled out of a 4-4 tie to claim the first set, then pulled out several close games in the second set keep her momentum going.
"I tell my players, you've got to control the match — you control it with pace, with depth and with placement," Patton said. "Ashley did that (Saturday). She did a really good job."