MCMINNVILLE Once again, the cream of the Pacific Conference tennis crop belongs to Century.
On championship Saturday at Linfield College, Jaguars Eka Essien and Tommy Edwards repeated as the boys and girls singles champions, respectively, at the leagues district tournament, and Neyen Essien finished third to outperform her seed for the second straight year.
All three players advanced to this weeks Class 6A boys and girls state tournaments, which kicked off Thursday in Beaverton and Portland and will continue through Saturday.
After blowing by the No. 2 seed, Tualatins Ryan Malinowski, 6-3, 6-0 in the final, Edwards was his typically mild-mannered self about claiming his second league title.
Its pretty cool, I guess, said the sophomore. Its a good feeling.
Eka Essien offered a bit more on what it was like to repeat. In fact, the junior earned her third league crown in as many tries.
It feels really good, because the first year its surprising, second year a little intimidating, third year like relaxed and happy, she explained. Like Im defending it Im defending my title.
Both players were completely dominant throughout the tournament. Edwards lost just five games across his five matches and Essien dropped only six, including one to sophomore sister Neyen in the semifinals.
In the boys final, Malinowski appeared game early on, and he did break Edwards serve.
There were some tight points, Edwards acknowledged about the early play. He hit some good shots, and he played well the first set.
But Edwards seemed more frustrated at times with his own play rather than his opponents, and he ultimately had little trouble pulling away from the Timberwolf, whose frustration seemed to grow throughout the contest as Edwards picked up points and he did not.
Eka Essien also played consistently well, posting three 6-0, 6-0 wins to kick off the tournament.
In the final, second-seeded Courtney Roshak of Tigard proved to be a tricky opponent, but Essien used a solid serve to help pull out a 6-3, 6-2 win for her third title in a row.
Shes an amazing player, Essien said of Roshak. I just played better today.
As for Neyen, she was seeded third last year but pulled an upset in the semifinal round to set up a showdown with her older sister in the final.
This year, as the No. 4 seed, she earned a 6-4, 6-4 win against Tigards Caroline Tea in the quarterfinals to assure herself of a repeat trip to state, and then she got the rematch with her sister in the semifinals, which Eka handled 6-0, 6-1.
Neyen rebounded in the third-place match, pulling off a tight 7-5, 6-3 win against No. 3 Sam Russo of Newberg.
I was actually surprised that I got fourth seed instead of like third or second because I won second last year, Neyen said. (Russo) was really good. I liked how I played her and then beat her, and then third its good enough.
While the Century singles players shined individually, the Glencoe boys team recorded the top finish of any Hillsboro-area squad. The Crimson Tide took third place with 20 points behind Tualatin (35) and Newberg (24½), while Century and Hillboro were seventh and eighth.
Daniel Kolesnikov and Brendon Sommers led the Tide by advancing to the singles quarterfinals. Kolesnikov, the No. 3 seed, fell there in three sets to Michael Rinker of Tualatin. Sommers ran into Malinowski in that round but played him tough in a 7-5, 6-3 defeat.
Tualatin also won the girls team title. Century, Glencoe and Hilhi were fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
As for the Century singles players, all three opened up the state tournament on Thursday. First-day results were not available at press deadline.
Note: The Liberty doubles team of seniors Tu Pham and Shaun Thean finished third at last weeks Northwest Oregon Conference boys district tournament to qualify for the Class 5A boys state tourney, which also began Thursday. Fellow senior Mohsen Assadi took fourth in singles and also qualified.