Summit’s Carter Quigley returns a shot while facing off against teammate Chandler Oliveira during the Class 5A Special District 1 boys tennis championship match in Sunriver on Saturday. Quigley won. (Ryan Brennecke / The Bulletin) - Bulletin
Summit’s Carter Quigley returns a shot while facing off against teammate Chandler Oliveira during the Class 5A Special District 1 boys tennis championship match in Sunriver on Saturday. Quigley won. (Ryan Brennecke / The Bulletin)
There is no denying it: Summit has done a lot of winning on the tennis court.
The Storm boys have won their district tournament in each of the past five seasons and a state title in five of the past seven, including the two most recent. But even after 15 overwhelmingly successful years at the helm, coach Josh Cordell says he can still find things to worry about.
“I stress and think about our lineup way more than any human should,” Cordell said with a laugh during a recent afternoon practice. “It’s pretty silly, actually, the amount of time that I spend thinking about our lineup and potential doubles teams and what other teams in the state are going to score and how we match up against that.”
But when it comes to his players and their performance on the court, Cordell seems much less concerned. Despite the fact that his team unexpectedly lost three state qualifiers who could have returned this season (one graduated early, another opted to play rugby this season and the third is attending a tennis academy in California), there is no sign of a talent drain.
“Our top two players are Carter Quigley and Garen Gasparovic, and they’re two of the best players in the Northwest,” Cordell said. “It’s fortunate any time you have two kids that good, and so they’re really setting the tone for this team.”
No program would turn down one or two of the top players in the state. But if the Storm want to make it three team titles in three years, it will take more than an individual title from Gasparovic, who has returned to the team after spending his sophomore year at a tennis academy, or Quigley, who was the singles runner-up at the state tournament last season.
“This year, Ashland, Corvallis and Churchill will be our big competition at state for the 5A level, but they typically haven’t had the depth we’ve had,” Cordell said. “For the past couple of years, we’ve been fortunate in that no one has been close to our depth. Other teams always produce top players, so we’ll go to state and it’s really tough to win an individual state title, because there are great players. But there haven’t been any 5A teams that have six players as good as our top six, definitely no teams that have 12 players as good as our top 12 for a while now.”
Summit has a large group of players to draw from: The 43 members of the team practice in two shifts, with JV practice following the varsity. Cordell said he has intentionally created a program in the mold of a football or basketball team, for which preparation for the high school squad begins years in advance and making varsity is a significant achievement. Indeed, Cordell said one of his current freshmen approached him as a sixth-grader to discuss what he would need to work on to play for the varsity team.
“If you want to be the quarterback at your high school, you don’t decide that in eighth grade,” Cordell said. “You’ve decided that a long time ago, and you’ve been working hard for it. And so the kids who are going to play varsity tennis for us didn’t get into high school and say ‘I think I want to play tennis.’”
Such an atmosphere can put a lot of pressure on kids, but that same intensity is an asset when the team faces opponents.
“(What makes us successful is) our willingness not just to be good, but to fight emotionally and mentally,” Quigley said. “We’re the loudest, the rowdiest, and we have the most fight in the state, and that’s part of our team, that’s part of who we are. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of skilled individuals, but that fight separates us from the rest of the state, as we’ve shown the past couple of years.”
Cordell and Quigley cited other factors in explaining Summit’s run of success, including a generally strong tennis community in Bend and the competitive culture found across sports at Summit High School.
But there is also the fact that all the practicing, traveling and competing can be an awful lot of fun.
“My least favorite part of practice is probably leaving,” Quigley said. ”That’s probably it.”
A look at the Central Oregon teams competing this season:
Coach: Kevin Collier (girls, 19th season); Ryan Goldstein (boys, 1st season)
2015: Girls third at the Class 5A state championships; boys tied for eighth at the Class 5A state championships
Players to watch: Sierra Winch and Jesse Vezo are back for the girls side after winning the doubles title last year at state, as is Kyla Collier, who reached the state quarterfinals with her doubles partner, Sydney Meeuwsen, last spring. Experienced singles players Sean Herbert and Nicolas Campbell have returned for the boys, while Jasper Ladkin will pair with Aaron Banquer-Glenn, a senior who reached the doubles state quarterfinals last season.
Players to watch: Therrian says senior Hannah Schiffman will likely lead the Panthers in singles, while Alexi Overland and Jasmine Davalos have the versatility to play both singles and doubles. Senior Seth Atkinson has returned for the boys side after sitting out last season, and Soto says freshman T.J. Fournier has proved to be a valuable addition to the team so far this season.
Players to watch: Sneckner said the Panthers’ No. 1 singles player Greta Harris has the fitness and talent to vie for a spot at the state tournament. The team as a whole opened the season with a 4-3 record in dual matches, already outstripping its win total from last season. The Redmond boys will rely on three seniors, Dakotah Schmidt, Joan Gutierrez and Steven Koutsopoulos, while Connor Lennie and Ebin Maddox will take over the No. 1 doubles position.
2015: Girls seventh at the Class 5A state championships; boys tied for 12th at the Class 5A state championships
Players to watch: Senior Brett Blundell qualified for state as a singles player last season, but this time around he will be playing doubles with T.J. Smith, who transferred from Redmond. Neville also described senior co-captain Dalton Lewis as “one of the best sports I’ve ever had.” On the girls side, Riley Hanks, who was runner-up in the singles consolation final last year at state, is back playing in the No. 1 singles position. Laing says he is still trying to find the right partner for Heidi Ronhaar in the No. 1 doubles position, while Marie Carr has found success playing in a number of positions and is showing rapid improvement.
2015: Girls tied for ninth at the Class 5A state championships; boys first at the Class 5A state championships
Players to watch: On the girls side, Autumn Layden and Siena Ginsburg have returned after their runs in the singles draw at last year’s state tournament, and Cruz says he expects good results from Summit’s No. 1 doubles team, Sonja Kinney and Sabryna Adrianson, as well as an improved Danielle Axten. The boys side is gearing up for another run at the state title, as Cordell says the team has two of the top players in the Northwest in Carter Quigley and Garen Gasparovic as well as a deeper team than any other Class 5A program.
2015: Girls fourth at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championships; boys tied for 15th at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championships
Players to watch: The Cowgirls have lost Elsa Harris, who was the state runner-up in singles in 2014 and 2015, but doubles partners Laura Fraser and Gwyneth Ptomey are back after reaching the state quarterfinals last year. Jack Stubblefield, who reached the singles consolation semifinals at state last season, has also returned for Crook County.
Coach: Dave Jordan (girls, 7th season); Margaret Kincaid (boys, 11th season)
2015: Girls at districts; boys tied for 15th at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championships
Players to watch: Jordan said this will be a rebuilding year for the girls team, which has a strong freshman class but few upperclassmen. Seniors Tyra Thomas and Dani Schmaltz have moved into the No. 1 doubles position, while Tifany Figueroa and Lucianna Ceballos Hammond (an exchange student from Argentina) will play in the top singles positions. On the boys side Obie Eriza, who reached the doubles consolation semifinal at last year’s state tournament, will miss the season due to injury, but Kincaid said she has high hopes for the doubles team of Omar Dominguez and Simon Sagha and the young pairing of Brandon Salgado and Deon Culpus. Jesus Egoavil is competing at the No. 1 singles position, and Kincaid said she also expects a strong year from Matt Marcotte.
2015: Girls tied for 17th at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championships; boys tied for ninth at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state championships
Players to watch: Just two of the Outlaws’ eight doubles players, Annika Stedeli and Alana Lukens, have returned from last season. Fullhart said she has her eyes on returner Lacey Gilmore, who could break out as a top singles player in the classification. Six players return for the Outlaw boys this season, including Michael Commins, Jonathan Gurney, Pierce Wehrle and Joshua Kizziar — all four of whom could contend for Sisters’ top singles spot.
Editor’s note: This information box has been corrected. In the original version, Bend High’s Sierra Winch and Jesse Vezo were not recognized as 2015 Class 5A state doubles champions. The Bulletin regrets the error.