Morse brothers claim state crown
It was no surprise Scott Morse would not be affected by the pressure of playing in the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A boys state tennis championships.
But there was the uncertainty of how his younger brother, Eric, would react being in the state tournament for the first time.
Scott Morse, a three-time state singles champion for Cascade Christian, switched to doubles his senior year to team with his freshman brother in quest of a different title.
Eric responded like a seasoned veteran and the Morse brothers rolled to the doubles championship at the Eugene Swim & Tennis Club on Saturday.
"I knew (Eric) had the talent," said Scott Morse, "but he had to prove it mentally. He showed he can play in the clutch."
The Morse duo defeated seniors Alex Tallian and Trevor Apple of Oregon Episcopal in the doubles finals, 6-3, 6-3.
But it was the semifinals that was the crucial match en route to the title. Because the brothers were seeded third, they were paired against top-seeded and two-time defending state champions Ryan Nedrow and Jason Stack of Oregon Episcopal in the semifinals.
Receiving the No. 3 seed especially motivated the older Morse brother.
"It was not much respect for me after winning three in a row," said Scott Morse. "I was looking forward to the semifinals the entire week. We knew that would be the top match of the tournament."
The Morse's registered a straight-set victory against Nedrow and Stack, 6-4, 6-4.
"Scott played like I thought he would," said Cascade Christian coach Brian Morse, father of Scott and Eric. "He played big when he had to. Eric came up with some key shots at clutch times. It was a total added bonus. Eric showed a lot of moxie."
The first set was on serve with the Morse's leading 5-4 when OES lost a triple deuce final game with Nedrow serving.
The closest Scott Morse came to being broken in the entire tournament was in the first game of the second set when the Challenger pair trailed 15-40 and had to save five break points.
Like in the first set, the Cascade Christian team led 5-4 with the OES serving. At 15-all, Eric Morse hit a lob winner deep on the sideline. Then Scott Morse smacked a cross-court return up the middle to give the Challengers double championship point. Eric Morse's powerful return of serve set up his brother for an overhead slam at the net to end the match.
"Eric played amazing in that last game, said Scott Morse. "That last shot was the hardest forehand he hit in the entire match."
Scott Morse became the first boy at any level to claim four state tennis championships. He also won two state basketball titles at Cascade Christian.
"For me it was really special," said the elder Morse. "Scott won all the others individually. This time Scott was instrumental in helping Eric win a state championship. So that was cool to see those two play together."
Winning the doubles title with his brother held extra significance for the six-time state champion.
"It was different, but I liked it a lot more," said Scott Morse. "It was really fun playing with Eric. And I enjoy the team sport type of thing."
Another Morse brother, Jeffrey, and Taylor Pena lost in the consolation semifinals. Morse, a Cascade Christian junior, and the freshman Pena were defeated 8-4 in a pro set by Greg Kang and Adam Quandt of Valley Catholic.
Oregon Episcopal won its fourth consecutive team state championship with 15 points. Cascade Christian, which had been runner-up for two straight years, finished third with 8.5. Catlin Gabel was second with 10 points.
CLASS 5A — At Beaverton, the Ashland doubles team of Jeff Laskos and Chas Bernard lost a three-set match for the consolation championship.
Laskos, a junior, and Bernard, a freshman, dropped a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 decision to Matt Walker and Daniel Nellis of Cleveland.
Summit of Bend won the team title with 14 points, while Churchill and Cleveland tied for second (10). Ashland finished tied for 13th.
CLASS 6A — At Beaverton, North Medford's Jaci Abeloe and Carissa Arnesen put it all together in capturing the doubles consolation championship.
After losing an opening-round match, the Black Tornado senior duo won three straight in impressive fashion.
Abeloe and Arnesen completed their run through the consolation bracket with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Brandie Hill and Laura Bennetts of Lincoln.
Jesuit won its fifth straight state championship with 27 points. Southridge placed second (22). North Medford tied for 13th.