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Tigers dig deep in matches


Newberg is ready for the district tournament after playing five dual matches and a tournament in eight days

To say that the Newberg boys tennis team has been keeping busy is quite an understatement.

The Tigers played four consecutive dual matches last week, traveled south to play in a two-day tournament in Roseburg and returned Monday only to take the court again.

The good news is that Dave Brown’s team won four out of five league matches to lock up second place in the Pacific Conference and tested itself ahead of the district tournament by placing third in Roseburg. by: SETH GORDON - Backhanded reply - Josh Ice hits a volley during his victory at No. 4 singles April 29 versus Century. The Tigers won 7-1 in the second of four dual matches last week.

The Tigers dispatched Glencoe 8-0 April 28 and Century 7-1 April 29 to set up a showdown with league-leading Tualatin on April 30, but watched it’s last chance at catching the Grizzlies slip away in a tight match 5-3 loss.

Barry Vernon and Micah Stoltzfus earned victories at Nos. 2 and 3 singles to go along with Ercoli Cragnale and Matt Staples’ win at No. 3 doubles, but close losses at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles proved to be the difference.

Newberg was pretty much exhausted when it took on Forest Grove May 1 and it showed as many flights lost their first set. But the Tigers dug deep to rally in most of those matches and earn a 6-2 victory.

“Mental toughness was probably the biggest thing we got out of the week,” Brown said. “I was really proud of them.”

That gave the team a day to rest as it traveled to Roseburg, which agreed to host an eight-team tournament after the traditional Medford tournament was cancelled due to weather.

The Tigers proved up to the challenge, as all eight flights won their first round matches.

Aidan Thillmann lost a tough semifinal match, but rebounded to take third place with a performance Brown called the best he’s seen from his No. 1 player.

Vernon also placed third after dropping yet another close match to the eventual No. 2 singles champion, as did Braden Milroy at No. 4.

“That’s the highest level tennis he’s ever played,” Brown said of Vernon. “I think it’s going to help him make state. He had to come up with stuff he’s never come up with. That was really good for him.”

Micah Stoltzfus captured Newberg’s lone title by going 3-0 at No. 3 singles, while the No. 3 doubles duo of Cragnale and Staples took third.

The Tigers collected 89 points to finish behind Roseburg (105) and tournament champion South Salem (131), but Brown said he couldn’t be happier with what the trip provided.

“I’m so proud of our team when we go to a tournament like that,” Brown said. “They were on each other’s matches, watching, supporting each other. Everything that you want in tennis from the team aspect kind of gets highlighted. That helps us going into districts.”

Newberg returned home to best Tigard 6-2 on Monday and will close out the regular season Wednesday versus Hillsboro. It will then look to defend its district tournament title May 15-17 at Linfield College.