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Bulldog tennis returns depth, experience


by: PHIL HAWKINS - Teammates Beto Salermon (above) and Marco Soria (below) return to the Woodburn tennis team this season as the Bulldogs' No. 1 doubles team after performing well as the No. 2 team in 2013.There are a lot of familiar faces on the court this season for the Woodburn boys tennis team. Unlike last year, where the Bulldogs were a mix of youth and experience, the team this spring has much more familiarity with the nuances of the sport.

This makes head coach Tom Lonergan pleased as Woodburn prepares for its season-opening match against North Salem Thursday at Woodburn High School.

“I’m looking forward to this year, because we’ve got a lot more depth,” said Lonergan. “We have almost everybody back.”

The singles team reads similarly to the 2013 roster, with David Samano, Robert Sanchez and Manny Leon slated to play the first three singles positions.

The fourth spot has yet to be determined, as Lonergan expects it to be up for grabs.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn's Marco Soria.For the doubles teams, Beto Salermon and Marco Soria will move up to No. 1 doubles after having a great deal of success last year. Salermon and Soria were relatively new to the sport last year as sophomores, but their athleticism often made up for their lack of experience, and the duo was one of the Bulldogs’ more consistent performers at No. 2 doubles.

Jay Patel and Adrian Salinas will move into No. 2 doubles, while Keyan Robles and Luis Hernandez take over as the No. 3 doubles team. A pair of freshmen, Joel Lopez and Fernando Hernandez, will be the team’s No. 4 doubles pair.

“We only have a couple players who haven’t played before in the top 12,” said Lonergan. “The rest are pretty experienced.”

That should bode well for Woodburn after last year’s team went 6-10 overall and failed to send a representative to the state championships.

“I expect we’ll win a lot more than last year,” said Lonergan. “Hopefully this year, I think we can have a winning record.”

Of course, the team must match up against the usual powers in the Mid-Willamette. West Albany, Corvallis and Crescent Valley are the annual powers within the conference. Lonergan also expects Silverton and Lebanon to field challenging teams, leaving Woodburn with five quality programs to contend with in order to have a chance at sending one of their athletes to state.

One of those teams – West Albany – is set to move up to the 6A classification next season, leaving the door open for a number of athletes to challenge for a state championship berth. But that will have to wait until the 2015 season. Still, Lonergan isn’t upset at seeing one of the league powers move up a level.

“I’m not sad to see them go,” he said with a laugh.

In West Albany’s place, the Central Panthers will move up to the Mid-Willamette Conference in 2015 after excelling at the 4A level for years.

The Panthers and Bulldogs will meet March 31 at Central High School in Independence for a non-conference match that will become a twice-a-season competition come next year.