News staff writer

May 7, 2005

Before Alec Asbridge stepped onto the tennis courts at Jackson Park to meet his No. 2 singles opponent Carlos Romo from Pendleton, a Hood River Valley teammate pep-talked him.

"Get 'em this time, Alec," he said.

Asbridge responded with a stoic nod.

Romo had beaten Asbridge in their March 13 match at Pendleton 6-3, 4-6, 5-7. Of course that meeting followed a year during which Asbridge's right shoulder sidelined him from any competition and constructive practice.

Asbridge showed in the first three games, how much a healthy shoulder and practice could help. He was up 3-0 on Romo, eventually out-swatting him 6-4, 6-3.

"It was good to redeem myself after losing to him in the first match of the season," Asbridge said.

His performance Tuesday helped the Eagles seize an overall 5-3 team win against Pendleton.

That win was not certain, however, at the beginning of Mark Oppenheimer’s No. 3 singles match against Kyle Brown.

Hood River Valley had won four matches at that point with the help of Matt Byrne and Bruce Chiang at No. 1 doubles, Jimmie Oates and German Vega at No. 2 doubles and Matt Dunham and Logan Merriam at No. 4 doubles.

But Pendleton's best, Aaron Beemer, had edged Hood River's best, Jeff Emmerson 6-7, 5-7, after the sophomore went up on him 3-1 in the first set.

"I just started playing bad," Emmerson said. "I lost my forehand, started slicing and chopping at the ball. Nothing was really working."

Pendleton's No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles had all defeated their Hood River Valley opponents.

An Oppenheimer loss could have placed an asterisk beside Hood River Valley's victory.

Oppenheimer, who began playing tennis two months ago, used his speed and agility to keep the ball in play and allow his Pendleton opponent to make mistakes.

He won the first set. But lost his edge early in the second. Oppenheimer rebounded, however, to force a tiebreaker, which he won.

"He refused to quit," Oates said. "He kept everything in play, no matter how hard he had to run for it. He did that until the other kid made a mistake."

Hood River Valley played Hermiston Friday. Result were not available at press time.

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