By DAVE LEDER
News staff writer
HOOD RIVER — The good times are rollin’ for the Hood River Valley boys tennis team, which won its third consecutive match on Tuesday at home against Central Catholic.
Behind straight-set victories from their top six players, and another straight-set win from the No. 3 doubles team, the Eagles defeated the Rams 5-3 to improve to 3-1 overall.
“We’re going to be strong all year with our top two singles players and doubles teams,” coach Mike Oates said. “But after that, we will have to work hard to win matches. Joe Yang and Joe Sager came up big for us this time, and that was the swing match.”
The No. 3 doubles team of Yang/Sager won a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Anthony Steele and Ian Galvin, which put the Eagles over the top in the overall team score.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 doubles pair of Matt Byrne and Bruce Chiang won with ease (6-2, 6-0), and the No. 2 team of Jimmie Oates and German Vega emerged with a 6-1, 6-4 victory. Matt Dunham and Logan Merriam gave a solid effort at No. 4 doubles, but fell 4-6, 6-7.
Over on the singles side, HRV’s top two players won convincingly. Sophomore No. 1 Jeff Emmerson took care of Austin Joyner 6-3, 6-1 to win his third straight match, while senior No. 2 Alec Asbridge dropped Tyler Gerding 6-4, 6-2 for his third straight to start the season. (Both players have missed one team match.)
“Alec had a difficult first set, but took control in the second,” coach Oates said. “He is a solid player who tends to get better and better as the match goes on.”
Rounding out the HRV scores on Tuesday were junior Mark Oppenheimer, who lost 2-6, 0-6 to Matt Flasker; and senior Sean Tamura, who fell 2-6, 2-6 to Ben Summer.
Oates said he was hoping to see Oppenheimer pick up his fourth victory of the young season, but Flasker ended up wearing him down in the second set.
“After watching Mark the first few matches, I expected him to win,” he said. “But he ran into a tough kid who really knew how to play.”
The Eagles’ top nine players will travel to Dallas High School today for a four-team round-robin tournament.
The top three singles positions have been established, along with the top two doubles teams. However, the No. 3 doubles team will likely shift because Yang is unable to attend. Oates said Tamura may team up with Sager, which could end up being a solid pairing.
“Joe (Sager) has already come a long way in our first few matches, and he has shown a lot of potential,” Oates said. “Our young guys are showing a lot of improvement so far, and they will be asked to make a difference for us as the season goes on.”
Oates and his assistant, Jim Byrne, have also noticed steady growth with fellow youngsters, Merriam and Dunham, at No. 4 doubles. Both players have solidified themselves in that roster spot, and may be counted on to win some matches to help put HRV over the top.
“We know what our top five or six guys can do,” Oates said. “But the play of our young guys could determine whether we win or lose certain matches.”
Oates also spoke of some good internal competition between his son, Jimmie, and senior Bruce Chiang for the No. 1 doubles spot, alongside Matt Byrne. Chiang won the most recent challenge match and will remain at No. 1 for today’s tournament.