Creswell Bulldog tennis teams split their singles matches 4-4 with host Springfield as they opened their 2019 Special District 3 4A/3A/2A/A season on March 13.
Winning singles matches against Springfield were Chance Leach, Sky Leach and Evan Stephens for the Bulldogs’ seven-member boys’ team and Amanda O’Reilly for Creswell’s 10-member girls’ team.
Chance Leach won his best-two-out-of-three match, 6-4, 6-4. ”Chance is a big surprise,” said head coach Tyler Hollingsworth. ”He had no experience, but he’s picked things up really quickly and he’s really aggressive on the court.”
Sky Leach won his pro set (one set played to eight points instead of best-two-out-of-three sets to six), 8-2 and Stephens won his pro set 8-6.
”We played some pro sets because Springfield has only eight players total,” Hollingsworth said.
O’Reilly won her pro set 8-0. ”Experience levels were the same between Amanda and her opponent, but there was a big difference in their ability levels,” Hollingsworth said.
Losing singles matches at Springfield were Ethan Stephens (4-6, 2-6), Brooklyn Grubbs (3-6, 2-6), Makaela Seiber (3-8) and Maisy Allen (5-8).
Stephens and Grubbs were pitted against Springfield’s top boys’ and girls’ player, respectively.
”Ethan played tennis three days a week at the Y over the winter; he’s got great groundstrokes and serves, and is going to be really good,” Hollingsworth said. ”It’s just going to be a matter of growing quickly mentally for the on-the-court pressures of competition.”
The Bulldogs lost both doubles matches at Springfield: Tristan Desmet and Kizmo Chamnannarongsak fell 1-8 while Kylee Whitson and Emme Whitson fell 3-8. O’Reilly and Virginia Laird each paired with a Springfield player for an exhibition (non-scoring) doubles match.
With just two outside practices under their belts before their first match, ”I thought a lot of kids did really well,” Hollingsworth said, adding that knowing their most advantageous ”placement on the court” is the biggest learning curve for inexperienced players and for a team confined by weather to the school gym for most of their preseason practices.
Now in its second year as an OSAA-sanctioned, varsity-letter sport at Creswell High School, the CHS tennis team provides a good cross-training outlet for student athletes who play other sports such as soccer, volleyball or basketball in the fall and winter, and a less-intense competitive experience for students who may prefer individual to team sports.
”Competitive tennis can be as intense as you want it to be, but there’s not that intense pressure of team sport practices and games,” said Hollingsworth, a former tennis and basketball player who also coaches varsity girls’ basketball for CHS. ”There’s a different feel to our practices and drills. We have fun.”
Bulldog tennis is active this week at Thurston, where the boys will play four singles and two doubles matches and the girls will play four singles and three doubles matches; all matches will be best-two-out-of-three sets.