Since joining the 2A Greater St. Helen’s League four years ago, the Washougal High School boys tennis team has been chasing Mark Morris and R.A. Long.
Last week, the Panthers beat both rivals for the first time.
It is a feeling of satisfaction for seniors Erik Ackerman, Eyan Cagle, Jacob Eagle, Patrick McCarthy, Chris Norton, Brian Price, Peter Quinanola and Nico Severich, and coaches Eric and Linda Balholm.
“We had opportunities to beat them last year, but we always seemed to tie and lose by sets,” said Eric Balholm. “We’ve come so close, and now we’re finally doing it.”
Washougal defeated R.A. Long 4-2 Wednesday.
Severich was victorious at first singles 6-0, 6-0. Price stepped in for an injured Quinanola at third singles, and won in three sets 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Cagle and McCarthy swept their doubles match 6-0, 6-0. David Choi and Backus Peel won their match by a tiebreaker 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
The Panthers won all six of their matches against Mark Morris Friday.
Serovich (6-4, 6-4) and Peel (6-1, 6-0) won at singles. Eagle won his first varsity match of the season by a tiebreaker 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Cagle-McCarthy (6-3, 6-3) and Choi-Norton (6-0, 6-1) swept their doubles matches. The new team of Ackerman and Quinanola won by tiebreaker 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
Washougal beat Mark Morris again Monday, by the score of 5-1.
Severich (6-0, 6-1), Eagle (6-2, 6-3) and Loring Moore (8-0, one-set match) were victorious in their singles matches. Cagle-McCarthy (6-1, 6-1) and Ackerman-Quinanola (6-1, 6-1) also won at doubles.
While the Panthers have more than 30 players, the other teams in league have not been able to keep up. R.A. Long is down to 12 players and Mark Morris only has eight. Hockinson and Woodland are not fielding teams this fall.
“We’re blessed to have a great group of guys this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, they all seem to get along well,” said Eric Balholm. “You wish there was more competition, but you go with what is given to you. One good thing about our guys, they’re willing to go hard against each other in practice.”
The Panthers look forward to hosting R.A. Long Oct. 6, while also preparing for the sub-district tournament.
“Our goal is to qualify as many boys as we can for districts, but they have to be able to play solid all the way through and never let their guard down,” said Eric Balholm. “It’s tough when you don’t have enough competition in the league to prepare you. I think that’s the greatest challenge we have right now.”