As of Wednesday, May 18, 2016
CORVALLIS — At the beginning of the season, Dallas’ boys tennis team was on a mission: upset the traditional balance of power in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
At the district tournament last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Dragons did just that.
Senior Thomas Gniadecki and the doubles pair of Joe Gillette and Josh Dudley clinched berths to state.
“I was happy,” Gniadecki said. “This is what this season has been all about.”
Gniadecki placed second in the singles bracket, while Gillette and Dudley took fourth in the doubles bracket.
Gniadecki entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed — a ranking he didn’t take lightly.
“It puts the pressure on you,” Gniadecki said. “People expect you to win.”
Gniadecki advanced to the final when he played Corvallis senior Sam Larson, falling in three sets. The two faced each other three times this season — each match went three sets.
“(Sam) played better than me (on Friday),” he said. “But I’m happy for the season overall.”
Gniadecki will face Milwaukie senior Mario Sensat in the first round of the state championship on Thursday.
Gillette and Dudley entered the district tournament ranked seventh in the doubles bracket, but advanced to state after defeating Woodburn 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday. The pair fell in the semifinals and third-place matches on Friday, but had already clinched its spot at state.
“We’re really excited,” Dudley said. “We wanted to go to state from the beginning of the season. It’s good to finally get there.”
Gillette and Dudley joined forces midway through the season. Gillette was primarily a singles player before the switch.
“I thought I played well with Josh and the singles side was stacked, so I thought there was a better chance at making state in doubles,” Gillette said.
Gillette and Dudley will face Race Latham and Cameron Meade, of Hermiston, in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday.
“I don’t know if there will be tons of expectation,” Gillette said. “We just want to play the best we can and see how it goes.”
Gniadecki said he’ll try to enter state ready to enjoy the moment — though he does hope to get one more shot at Larson. But no matter what happens, Dallas hopes to continue surprising.
“I’m really happy Joe and Josh made it to state, too,” Gniadecki said. “I’m glad I won’t be alone. I just have to remember to have fun and play.”
GIRLS TENNIS: Dallas’ girls tennis team saw its season come to an end at the district tournament.
The Dragons saw the doubles pairs of Addie Gillette and Lynn Gumpinger, and Megan Ronco and Amanda Schafer advance to the quarterfinals before falling. Kinzi Boer advanced to the consolation semifinals.
“Last year, we only had one doubles team make it to the quarterfinals,” girls coach Jordan Sollman said. “This year, we had two, and all four girls on those doubles teams will be coming back next year. We had a lot of youth and we saw a lot of growth this year. … They didn’t back down from anything and they played hard. I was very pleased with what I saw improvement-wise.”
Sollman hopes the experience at districts inspires his players to work harder than ever before.
“This shows the girls where they need to be if they want to take that next step,” Sollman said. “It gives you a marker. You see the competition. The big thing is taking that and thinking about how much time are you going to invest this offseason before you begin next year.”