Grizzlies headed to state

If nothing else, the Ashland High tennis team will have plenty of fan support at this week's state tournament. From each other.

A whopping 10 Grizzlies — seven girls and three boys — head to the Portland area today for the Class 5A state tennis championships. The boys will play at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton and the girls will play both at THTC and at the Portland Tennis Center, with both tournaments slated to begin Thursday morning and wrap up Saturday afternoon.

For the Ashland boys, three doubles teams plus singles player Quincy Briscoe will make the trek. Only one of those doubles teams — Josh Harris and Min-oh Suh — will start off in the main draw, while the other two will have to win first-round matches in order to advance into the final 16-team bracket.

Harris and Suh, Ashland's top tandem during the regular season, will face Parkrose tandem Josh Church and Trung Tin Tran in the second round, with the winner earning a likely date with No. 2-seeded Jason Berney and Surresh Kunar of Cleveland.

"They're pretty realistic," Ashland boys tennis head coach Dick Streng said of Harris and Suh, who have won all but two matches this season. "They don't get ahead of themselves — that's one of their pluses. They just play point by point. They don't get too rattled and they don't get too excited."

Also representing Ashland on the bottom half of the doubles bracket will be Chas Barnard and Jeff Laskos, who will be making their second straight appearance at the big show after losing in the consolation finals last season. Barnard and Laskos will take on Matt and Mike Boggess of Crescent Valley in the first round, with the winner slated to play the fourth-seeded team of Kevin Kyger and Matt Larraneta from Mountain View.

Barnard and Laskos have their sights set on another deep run.

"They're hoping to play to Saturday," Streng said.

Ashland's Alex and Nate Harris, a righty-lefty combination (Nate is left-handed), face George Clingan and Ben Lucke of Cleveland in another first-round match.

Brisco, a junior, will also have to fight his way into the main draw. His first-round opponent is Michael Pham of Century, and after that the road only gets tougher, with No. 4 seed Paxton Deuel of Summit waiting in the wings.

"(Brisco's) always a little nervous, but he's been serving awfully well and he's been working on some tactics that will calm him down," Streng said, "such as hitting in a certain pattern so he doesn't have to think and make changes during points, and how he can use his forehand more as a weapon."

On the girls side, Ashland's top singles player, senior Lara Soliz Urquizu, was stuck with the draw nobody wanted, matched up with top-seeded Katie Edwards of Century. On the bright side, even if Urquizu can't pull off the upset she'll have a chance to pull out some wins for the Grizzlies in the consolation bracket (all second-round losers fall into the consolation tourney).

That's not to say that Urquizu has lost hope.

"In a way, meeting a strong seed in the early rounds is a plus because they haven't had time to get into their rhythm yet," Ashland girls head coach Kim Rooklyn said.

The only AHS girls doubles team to qualify for state was Chloe Deckwar-Katie Patton duo, which was upset by Churchill's Nicole and Callyn Adkisson in the District 4 championship match. The loss proved to be costly, as Deckwar and Patton face a potential quarterfinal matchup with the No. 2 seeds (Braiden Johnston and Katie Brown of Crook County), while Nicole and Callyn Adkisson were awarded the No. 3 seed and won't have to play another seeded team until the semis at the earliest.

"That was a surprise," Rooklyn said. "But in a way for me it's a pleasant surprise that the seeding committee would think so highly of them, since (Deckwar and Patton) did beat them during our (regular season)."

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