Austin Evans and Ernie Hernandez switch off battling the best players in the Three Rivers League.
When Canby boys tennis coach Kevin Vedder replaces Austin Evans with Ernie Hernandez at No. 1 singles, or vice versa, its not because one player is necessarily more deserving of the top court than the other.
Its usually because one player is more deserving of a break.
I havent let them stay at number one for more than a few weeks at a time, Vedder said. It would be tough. I dont even know if they look forward to it.
In a stacked Three Rivers League that features club-level and year-round tennis players atop most lineups, success has proven elusive for Evans and Hernandez on the two most competitive singles courts.
Evans, a sophomore who is also a member of the high schools basketball program, takes advantage of his sheer athleticism to make plays in tennis. Hernandez, a junior, has improved in many aspects of his game since last year.
And while both have shown mental fortitude against some of the best boys tennis players in the state, Vedder acknowledged that a win at No. 1 singles appears virtually unattainable for the Cougars this season.
Many of (their opponents) play year-round and have lessons year-round, said the first-year coach, who replaced Dan Nugent at the helm. For us, we have recreational players who want to be better. Its not their fault, and its a really good learning experience. But theres nothing magical that can be done in five weeks when these other kids have years of year-round experience.
Indeed, Vedder said tough opposition has masked his teams improvement over the course of this year.
Im happy with the results so far, he said. The kids have good attitudes, theyre showing up and wanting to get better. And weve still got another few weeks. Were about halfway through the season, and Im hoping that we see some guys coming to life.
The team was slated to face Oregon City on the road April 21 before meeting Grant on the road April 23 and hosting Lakeridge on April 24 in a match that was originally scheduled for April 17 but postponed due to inclement weather.
Canby has engineered more success on the third and fourth singles courts, where Zac Cummings and Sam Hintz are striving to make the most of their senior campaigns.
Both players snagged three-set triumphs in the Cougars 6-2 loss to Portland-Grant in their conference opener at home April 7. Cummings dropped the opening set at No. 3 singles but bounced back for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory, and Hintz dominated the final set of a 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 win at No. 4.
Four days later, Hintz earned the only point of Canbys 7-1 loss to Clackamas on the road with a 6-2, 6-3 decision on the fourth court. Cummings came up short at No. 3, falling 6-4 in the third set.
Theyve both won a few matches, and theyve done fine, Vedder said. Theres rarely a situation where theyre getting blown out.
Evans and Cummings emerged victorious in the Cougars home match April 14 against Lake Oswego, which prevailed 6-2. Evans won on the second singles court, 6-0, 6-1, while Cummings secured a 6-0, 6-4 decision at No. 3.
Jake Castro has plenty of talent to be a successful doubles player. What he doesnt have is a steady collaborator.
The senior has experimented with three different partners this season, a sign of the Cougars overall inexperience in doubles play.
Jakes been a lone wolf, Vedder said. Hes probably the best doubles guy out there, but weve yet to find him a consistent partner.
Castro tested his skills in singles play during Canbys preseason schedule, but Vedder said he has more of a doubles game.
Hes a competitive guy and wants to win, Vedder said of Castro. And the good thing is there are still some matches left.
Castro played alongside Hernandez and Hintz for parts of last year, but those two players have been asked to compete primarily in singles this season.
Vedder also said hes reluctant to split sophomores Ben Thompson and Brett Wagnon because theyve shown promising potential as partners.
Theyre the future of the team, he said.
With the Cougars entering the second half of their TRL slate, Vedder has begun thinking about the future of the program.
The first-year coach noted that his junior varsity roster has fewer than 10 players this year and added that its challenging for him to attract students to the team because he is not a teacher at CHS.
A lot of these other schools have 25 guys on JV, he said. We need to get some more kids out for the team.
AT A GLANCE
CANBY BOYS TENNIS
Three Rivers League
April 7: Grant 6, CANBY 2
April 9: WEST LINN 8, Canby 0
April 11: CLACKAMAS 7, Canby 1
April 14: Lake Oswego 6, CANBY 2