AHS girls eye team title as District 4 tourney continues

Ashland High freshman Maggie Schein doesn't want to play her sister, top-seeded junior Casey Schein. But if it comes down to it and they do have to square off in the District 4 singles championship match, Maggie has a plan.

"I'll pretend I hurt my calf," she said.

Joking aside, the Schein sisters plus three of their AHS teammates are in position to lock up a D4 girls tennis championship for the Grizzlies this week in Eugene. They enter the final two days of the tourney four points ahead of Churchill - both Scheins are already in the semifinals (on opposite sides of the bracket), while singles player Monica Heiken and doubles team Christi Gay and Chloe Deckwar are in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinals will be played tonight and the semis and finals will be played Friday morning. All the matches will be played at Churchill High.

On the boys side, Ashland's top two singles players, Sean Cleveland and Nick Cross, are also in the semifinals.

"I'm actually really proud," Ashland head girls coach Kim Rooklyn said of the Grizzlies' postseason success, which comes on the heels of their undefeated District 4 campaign. "Last year we had one doubles team qualify and this year we already have two singles and potentially another singles and doubles. So that's really cool.

"It would be an honor and the girls would be excited about that."

Heiken tries to give the Grizzlies three singles semifinalists tonight when she squares off against second-seeded Brittany Banna of Churchill. Heiken's strategy is simple.

"I'm going to pretty much try and hit every single ball back - just be like a backboard," she said. "It'll be a long match, but maybe I'll get away with it."

An upset by Heiken would clinch for her a berth in next week's Class 5A state tournament. It would also set up a district semifinal date with Maggie Schein, the No. — seed.

If Banna prevails, she'll face the younger Schein, renewing a rivalry that has no clear favorite.

"I'm feeling pretty confident," Maggie Schein said. "I've played (Banna) at least 100 times in (USTA tournaments). We go back and forth, so it's going to be a really intense match, but if I win I have to play my sister and I'm not really looking forward to that."

Maggie Schein said she has never played her sister in a tournament match and doesn't really want that to change this week. But, she also doesn't want to lose.

"I'm already going to state so part of me really wants to win, part of me doesn't," she said. "But then again (Banna's) kind of my rival, so I want to beat her. I'm just going to practice and do my best.

I used to always beat her and then I don't know if I stayed the same or if she got a lot better, but then she started beating me, then I beat her, and she beat me last time. We're pretty tight so we'll see what happens."

Gay and Deckwar, Ashland's No. — doubles team that was unseeded at districts, will also be looking to clinch a state berth when they face a Churchill duo in tonight's doubles quarterfinals.

On the boys side, Cleveland, Ashland's No. — singles player, will face top-seeded Chris Wiechert of Churchill, while Cross will take on No. 3-seeded Chase Thomet of Churchill.

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.

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