By Rongi Yost

Boys tennis halfway through season


Last updated 4/19/2022 at Noon

Jerry Baldock

Jaxon Barry is the Outlaws No. 1 player.

The boys tennis team has hit the midway mark through the season, and the four young players that have dedicated themselves to learning the sport are getting better with each match played.

Sisters has played in seven matches, and the focus has been to get players as much experience as possible. Technically, they forfeit every match because they don’t have a full roster of 12 varsity players, but they aren’t concerned with the outcome of the matches.

Players have been playing pro sets to eight games, instead of two out of three sets to six games. That way each player can play one singles pro set, and one doubles pro set, which gives their opponents competition for eight players instead of four.

Coach Carl Click said, “Our opponents have been understanding and cooperative with our lack of numbers, and that’s nice. And in some cases, the other team will not even bring their best singles players or doubles teams because they are just too strong for our kids. A match with that much disparity doesn’t benefit either side.”

Senior Jaxon Barry is the Outlaws’ top singles player. He only has one year of high school tennis experience, and that was last year’s pandemic-shortened season. Click told The Nugget that Barry hits the ball harder than his teammates, and at times can hit a really hard first serve.

Barry practiced his serve so much early in the season that he actually had a very sore shoulder, and played several matches at less than 100 percent. The week of rest over spring break helped him and he’s now back to full strength.

Junior Matthew Riehle is the vocal leader on the team. Click noted that Riehle is a natural organizer and keeps the team focused. Riehle has won two singles pro sets so far this year.

Click said, “Matthew is very friendly on the court with his opponent. Every once in a while you’ll hear him compliment his opponent who hits a really nice point, and it’s enthusiastic and genuine. He has a lot of fun playing his matches.”

Zenus Ortega, also a junior, has less than a season of experience under his belt, as he only played part of last year, which was shortened.

Click said, “Zenus has moments of success, but struggles to be consistent. We try to get Zenus and all the players lots of ground stroke practice off the ball machine or a coaches’ feed so they can groove a good stroke. It’s more than 100 hits each practice session.

“Zenus is stronger on his backhand ground stroke than his forehand, which is counter to the way most new tennis players develop,” added Click. “He excels more in doubles when he plays with Barry. He seems to run around the baseline and keep the ball in play longer in doubles than singles, and if he can do it long enough he eventually sets up his partner for an easy put-away at the net.”

The highlight of the Outlaws’ season so far this year was when Ortega and Barry won 8-6 in the pro set against 6A Mountain View’s top doubles team, Taylor Acheron and Devin Merchant. Ortega and Barry both recovered from 8-0 singles’ losses to play consistent tennis. Barry’s serve was strong, and Ortega found some consistency all over the court, and the duo jumped to a 7-3 lead.

After a lecture from their coach, Acheron and Merchant took things more seriously, and came back to win three consecutive games. Ortega served the Outlaws to a deuce game win to take the pro set, and the combo posted their first doubles win of the season.

Click said, “Our kids don’t get too emotional about things. They want to be successful, but you couldn’t really tell if Jaxon and Zenus were excited about the win. But I was! I kept my cool until the bus door closed, and then I let out a loud exclamation of joy for their big win!”

Jaiden Skidmore, a freshman, is the Outlaws’ fourth player, and he’s brand new to tennis. Click shared with The Nugget that Skidmore started from scratch at the first practice of the season. He learned how to hold the racket, learned where to hit the ball, and learned the rules of the game.

“As with most new players, we started with just getting the ball back over the net, and then trying to do it more than once,” said Click. “Jaiden is now competing very well at our fourth singles position. He’s improved his skill, and he’s very inquisitive about tactics and strategy.”

Skidmore has a singles win to his credit over a JV player from Estacada and he and Riehle have two wins as a doubles team.

The Outlaws have six matches remaining in their season, and will wrap up league on Tuesday, May 3, with a home match against Woodburn.


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