Although victory is always nice, Hood River Valley High School varsity boys tennis coach Jon Hiatt isn’t judging the success of this year’s tennis season by wins and losses, but rather by participation and improvement. With 23 players on the roster, the team is considerably larger than in recent years; two years ago the team consisted of just seven players.
“We have players from all walks of life this year,” Hiatt said. “Many had never picked up a racquet before but wanted to be part of a team, which is great. Everyone is getting better and showing lots of improvement, which is always a good thing.”
Despite the limited experience, however, the team has had its share of wins so far this season. In recent matchups, the Eagles defeated The Dalles 5-3 in a conference dual, with No. 1 singles Scottie Ziegner winning 6-1, 6-0 and all four doubles pairs (Billy Edwards/Victor Garibo, Will Ferrick/Omar Cornejo, Miguel De La Rosa/Brandon Campos and Mason McDowell/Jorge Calderon) winning in straight sets. The team followed with a 6-2 loss at Hermiston and with a trip last weekend to the Oregon Episcopal School, where it faced some of the state’s toughest competition.
“We ran into a couple buzz saws at the OES tournament,” Hiatt said. HRV played to a 7-1 loss against LaSalle and an 8-0 loss against OES before beating Philomath 6-2 to end the day on a positive note. Ziegner won 8-1 at No.1 singles, Omar Cornejo won by forfeit, Alden Sova won 8-0, Ferrick and Sova won 8-4, De La Rosa and Campos won 8-6 and Shephered and McDowell won 8-5.
The team plays its special district tournament (combination of Columbia River Conference and Inter Mountain Conference) May 16-17 at Hermiston (girls are at Bend), where the top four singles players and doubles pairs qualify for state the following week. The only returning state qualifier on the roster is Ziegner, who finished fourth at districts last year and is 5-4 so far this season.
“He (Ziegner) has lost to some really high-caliber players,” Hiatt said. “He has a shot at making state again but will have to get through some tough competition to get there.”