Last year, The Dalles did not have a single team win, were scratching for individual victories and every player was eliminated in the first round of district action.
This past weekend at the Intermountain Conference girls tennis tournament on the Ridgeview High School campus in Redmond, every player was in at least the second round or better and four out of the eight quarterfinal matches between singles and doubles were filled with Hawk players.
Every one of the 12 TD players secured at least one match win, Charel Gijzen claimed first place and all of those added up to 27 points over the two-day tournament, securing the program’s first district title in more than 12 years.
“We have come so far from last year,” TD head coach Debby Jones said. “I am very proud of these young women and the way they have represented themselves, their families and our community. I was proud to have them be my temporary daughters over Mother’s Day weekend.”
In her singles title match, Gijzen had to outduel Hood River Valley senior Montsie Garrido, who had previously secured two wins in match play.
“Charel saved her best all-around technical match of the season for the finals. She really played smart,” Jones said. “She has been a joy to coach and brought such a light to our whole team. No one can take themselves too seriously when she’s around, but when its match time, she’s as fierce of a competitor as they come. We like to call her our Pitbull. She may not always start off strong, but she always finds a way to fight until the end.”
Kristi Warren and Ari Andrade faced off with their friends and teammates Natalie Varland and Lupita Contreras in the consolation semifinals with Varland and Contreras winning. That duo then just narrowly lost to Redmond’s regular-season No. 1 tandem in three sets.
Pearl Guzman and Karla Najera lost a close contest in the quarterfinals to the eventual second place finishers from Ridgeview, Alaina Clark and Sophia Munn.
At one point, TD had a tough schedule with a two-day tournament in Bend, followed by league matches versus Pendleton, Crook County and Ridgeview over a week and a half span.
That grueling stretch prepared the Hawks for weather conditions.
“The girls really battled in the very hot conditions,” Jones said. “I think we may have been a bit more prepared for the heat. We really pushed them hard the last couple weeks between matches and practice sessions and they were ready for the possibility of three matches in a day.”
Jones loses an impressive core of veterans, such as Contreras, Gijzen, Alvarez, Varland, Warren, Andrade, and Haight, but with her good numbers, she should be able to restock the varsity roster with capable standouts.
“We lose quite a few seniors this year, but they have lit a path for the underclassmen to follow,” Jones said. “They’ve really been a special group.”
State takes place Friday at the Portland Tennis center and Saturday at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.