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Three bring home state tennis titles

EUGENE ' Cascade Christian and St. Mary's were hoping to make good first impressions at the state Class 3A/2A/1A tennis tournament.

They did that and then some.

Cascade Christian freshman singles player Scott Morse and the St. Mary's girls doubles team of freshman Casey Schein and sophomore Lacey Hall each won hard-fought state championships at the Eugene Swim and Tennis Club.

Morse avenged an earlier loss to North Bend's Cody Ferguson with a 7-5, 6-4 victory, while Schein and Hall rallied for a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 triumph over Catlin Gabel's Molly and Natalie Wilcox.

The Challengers' one-man team of Morse was good enough for a fourth-place team trophy.

The St. Mary's girls tied for third with North Bend and Vale.

— Cascade Christian formed the first boys team this season in school history.

The fourth-seeded Morse made that commitment pay off.

I'm pretty excited about it, said Morse. It's definitely something I thought I could do at the beginning of the season.

Ferguson, the top seed and defending state champion, defeated Morse in the District 2 final after Morse dropped the final two sets with severe leg cramps.

He was fully hydrated this time, said Scott Morse's coach and father, Brian. He played near flawless today. He was totally focused and I could tell he did not want to lose.

After breezing through the first set, Scott Morse fell behind 3-0 to Ferguson before rattling off six straight points for the win.

He regrouped and started playing better, said Scott Morse of his opponent. I made some mistakes and let him dictate too much. I made the adjustments though.

Schein and Hall, the second seed, had their own adversity to deal with in Saturday's title match against the tournament's No. 1-seeded team.

The Crusader duo easily won the first set but ran into trouble and dropped their first set of the season.

This was definitely the best team they've played this year, said St. Mary's coach Rick Jackson, who headed the first girls program at the school in 20 years this season. I think it's the first time a team was moving forward on our groundstrokes.

The St. Mary's tandem then fell behind 3-0 in the final set before rallying.

I think how they won was the exciting thing, said Jackson. They've never really been pressured or never been down, so I didn't know how they'd respond.

It was really an amazing turnaround to mentally hold it together like they did. It's something to be very proud of.

Earlier in the day, Schein and Hall breezed to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Cascade's Nicole Foti and Delancy Albers in a semifinal contest.

Morse knocked off last year's state runner-up, Brandon Wei of Oregon Episcopal, 7-5, 6-4, in his semifinal.

Oregon Episcopal won the boys team title, while Ontario nipped Catlin Gabel on the girls side.

CLASS 4A TOURNAMENT ' At Beaverton, North Medford's Colt Hoeptner lost in the semifinals of the consolation bracket at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.

Hoeptner, a freshman, lost to Crescent Valley's Andrew Pritchard, 9-8 (8).

Sprague's Curt Wheeler won the state championship with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over teammate Nick Wales.

In doubles, Rusty Hand and Tom Kuenzli of Corvallis defeated Niles Beckley and Brent Kingzett of South Eugene, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in the finals.

Sprague cruised to the team title with 22 points over runner-up Churchill (11). North Medford was sixth with seven points.

In girls, Sunset senior Laura Neal scored a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rika Mehndiratta of Jesuit in the singles final, while Hermiston's Rebecca and Richole Berger won the doubles championship with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Jesuit's Caroline Lilley and Clare Dodge.

Jesuit won the team title with 29 points and Hermiston was second with 12. Ashland, North Medford and South Medford tied with five other teams for ninth place with four points.