Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles tennis players, from left to right, Pearl Guzman and Natalie Varland had the team’s only wins at the 5A Special District 1 Tournament at Sunriver last weekend in Bend. Guzman and her partner, Karla Najera defeated Summit’s Audrey Broberg and Amanda Hines, 6-4, 6-4, while Varland and Lupita Contreras had a big victory over Hermiston’s Katie Bradshaw and Emery Snyder, 2-6, 7-6, 10-6.
One goal Debby Jones and her tennis players had for the district tournament was to win at least two matches.
Natalie Varland and Lupita Contreras posted a No. 1 doubles victory and the No. 3 pairing of Pearl Guzman and Karla Najera added a win to their record to lead The Dalles girls’ tennis team at the two-day Special District 1 district tournament held at Sunriver in Bend.
“We really did not want to get blanked as a team and two of our doubles teams really came through for us,” Jones said. “We had eight players participate in their first district tournament and it was a great learning experience, which I think will prove to be a great benefit next year.”
In their first match, Varland and Contreras went the distance with Hermiston’s Katie Bradshaw and Emery Snyder in a three-set slugfest.
Bradshaw and Snyder breezed through the opener by a 6-2 margin to get the early advantage.
Both teams battled tough in the second set, at 6-6, until Varland and Contreras managed to avoid a two-set loss and came away with a 7-6 victory to send the match into the tiebreaker round.
In that third set, the Riverhawk tandem found their rhythm and scored a 10-6 win to advance another round for a matchup versus Hood River Valley’s Sally Evans and Kali Wetherell.
Varland and Contreras ended up losing 3-6, 4-6 in two sets to have their season cut short.
“I was really happy for Natalie and Lupita, as well as Pearl and Karla, who were able to pick up their first district wins of their high school careers,” Jones said. “Natalie and Lupita had to dig down deep after losing the first set, suffering a tough fall and a bloody nose to pull off the win. That was one of the better matches I’ve seen that combo play this season.”
Entering district action, Guzman and Najera had established some momentum, so they were playing at a high level, and they needed every bit of good bounces and good fortune to go their way in an opening match versus Summit’s Audrey Broberg and Amanda Hines.
The Riverhawk duo had two close sets, but held off their opponents for the 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
“The definite bright spot was the play of Guzman and Najera,” coach Jones said. “The win against Summit was a big one and a very big win for our program.”
That win sent them into the top-16, where they faced the eventual third place and state-bound team from Bend, Trinity Barudoni and Isabel Haycraft.
Guzman and Najera played well and contended with Barudoni and Haycraft, but the Bend duo scored a 6-0, 6-0 victory to eliminate the Riverhawk standouts.
“Pearl and Karla played their best match of the season, by far, and the majority of the games went to deuce,” Jones said. “I think the girls felt great with their play, but they were also a little surprised at how close the points were and that they were actually able to compete toe-to-toe with a tough team. The future is very bright for this combo and for our entire team.”
In singles action, Yahaira Alvarez lost 1-6, 1-6 to Mimi Diguardi (Summit), and Arlette Santillan came up empty in her No. 2 singles match, dropping two sets by margins of 2-6, 0-6 against Hood River Valley’s Jordan Ziegner.
TD’s No. 3 singles player, Michaela Haight, lost to Heather Davenport (Mt. Ridge) by marks of 1-6, 1-6, and Dalia Mondragon lost to Montsie Garrido (Hood River), 0-6, 0-6.
In doubles play, The Dalles’ Ari Andrade and Delainney Lobato lost 0-6, 0-6 against Natalie Chrisman and Emma Nguyen (Summit).
The No. 4 team of Mireya Huila and Liz Leon had two nip-and-tuck sets in their match with Ashlyn Hofbauer and Violet Mitchell (Hermiston), but could not get their shots to fall in losses of 5-7, 3-6.
At the start of the year, Jones had plenty of athletes to fill her roster with, which gave her a chance to fit players in certain roles.
While Huila is set to graduate as the team’s lone senior, there is plenty of firepower coming for Jones and assistant coach, Chelsea Gay.
“We will miss the influence from Mireya. She has been a great asset for our team,” Jones said. “I have 37 girls coming back with some new freshmen coming in. I know I can’t wait to start working towards next year.”