NORTH BEND — Just playing in the state tournament is an accomplishment most local tennis players work for — a chance to compete at the highest level in their classification.
A handful of Bay Area players get that chance this weekend in Corvallis.
Between Marshfield and North Bend, four doubles teams and a singles player all qualified for the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A Tennis State Championships starting on Friday.
North Bend sends three doubles teams — boys Graham Lyons and Lucas Parvin, and Bryce Hadley and Jack Wilson, as well as girls Kathryn Hurlbut and Macy Metcalf — plus singles Matt Jordan. Marshfield twins Max and Josh Nicolaus advanced in doubles.
“It’s really cool in the Coos Bay/North Bend area out of the 25,000 (people) we have, to have the resources like the (William J. Sweet Memorial) Tennis Center,” Hadley said. “We’ve all improved so much because of it.”
Hurlbut, whose last high school in California was sizable and competitive, was excited to come into a tennis team and have success right away, initially unsure what she would find.
“I was honestly just glad I had another season,” Hurlbut said.
Hurlbut and Metcalf, playing in their first season together, had to use a comeback in a pressure-packed tiebreaker at the district tournament to earn their spot at state before coming up short in the district final to the Junction City duo of Maddy Mehlbrech and Gabby Martinez, the top seeds at this week’s state tournament.
The pair will face fourth-seeded Tori Lewis and Jaja Osuna of Cascade, the Special District 2 champions.
“We’re happy to be there but also think we can do pretty well,” Metcalf said.
Like Hurlbut and Metcalf, Hadley and Wilson are simply excited to compete in the tournament.
North Bend coach Jim Jordan calls them the “thinking team.”
Unseeded at the district tournament, Hadley and Wilson scored an upset in the quarterfinal to punch their ticket to state. But their success didn’t come without some troubles.
In the first-round match, Wilson broke a string in his only racket and had to use a loaner for the all-important winner-to-state quarterfinal. Midway through the second set with the Bulldogs up a set, Hadley came up with cramps while playing at the net.
Somehow, with Hadley praising Wilson’s play the rest of the way, the Bulldogs prevailed and earned their trip to state where they will face Andrew Shendhal and Tod To of Oregon Episcopal.
“It was definitely the cherry on top of the story,” Wilson said. “But at the time, it was nerve-wracking. Having all that stress released, it just felt great. I feel a little bad because I think I was a bit vocal in my excitement.”
Meanwhile, the other two doubles teams feel like they can do some damage this week.
North Bend’s Lyons and Parvin, who will face Special District 4 champs Japeth Carlson and Sam McLaughlin of Vale, are hoping to make their second trip as partners, and Parvin’s third overall, a successful one.
As was expected, the Bulldogs faced Marshfield’s twins doubles team in the district final, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Even though the nerves have gone about simply appearing in state, the Bulldogs know they can have some success, and so a new form of nerves have encroached.
“I mean, the biggest thing that I have nerves with is this year we have the highest chance of having success,” Parvin said. “So I need to let that go because thinking about that can mess you up.”
The Marshfield twins are seeded fourth this week and will, themselves, play a pair of brothers: Alex and Moses Freauff of Crook County.
In a year that has been dedicated to making it to the second day of the state tournament, which would mean winning two matches to advance to the semifinals, the Nicolaus twins feel they’ve put themselves in a position to achieve that goal. The Pirates feel no pressure headed state as juniors with another year to go.
“(Our seeding) puts less pressure on us to win the tournament,” Josh said. “Our goal is to get to the second day. On the second day anything can happen.”
Matthew Jordan, the only singles player to get to state from the two Bay Area teams, opens against Jed Kizziar of Sisters. If the North Bend sophomore wins that match Friday morning, his likely quarterfinal foe is No. 2 seed Kristian Peev of Valley Catholic.