DALLAS — When the 2015 season began for Dallas’ girls tennis team, first-year coach Jordan Sollman had a simple message — forget the past.
“I told them I didn’t care what has happened in the past,” Sollman said. “This team is a different team, and we’re going to play like we’re out to win.”
That message has taken hold, perhaps for the first time in recent memory, as the Dragons prepare for the Mid-Willamette Conference district tournament Wednesday (today), Thursday and Friday at Timberhill Tennis Club in Corvallis.
“I’m feeling good after this year,” No. 1 singles player Marissa Brewen said. “We had some nice wins at the end of the season to get us pumped up and ready.”
How far they can go remains the biggest question, but expectations are for multiple girls to be playing into the second and third rounds, or beyond.
“I’m hoping to get into the third round,” Brewen said. “Win or lose, that’s my goal this year.”
She’s not the only one Sollman expects to perform well.
“Our top doubles team (Abigail Garber and Amelia Poston) swept the lower schools,” Sollman said. “They won the second time against Lebanon and competed really well against Silverton. Dana Taylor and Adelaine Gillette swept every school except for the Corvallis schools.”
On the singles side, Brewen, Savanna Poston and Lynn Gumpinger have good chances to advance past the first round, Sollman said.
“I think we are all going to do pretty well,” Taylor said. “We’re pumped. We’re playing better than we have in my years playing tennis here.”
Sollman started the year by telling his players to forget the past. As Dallas makes its final preparations, the Dragons followed that advice and are excited for their future.
“Districts can change things,” Sollman said. “You never know what could happen. We have several girls who have the capability to surprise people.”
The Dallas boys tennis squad knows its entering the district tournament as underdogs. But the Dragons hope a few players turn heads, Dallas coach Caleb Gillette said. The team’s top two doubles pairs of Cameron Gumpinger and Joe Gillette, and Nathaniel Miller and Josh Dudley, may represent the team’s best chance at making a run at districts, while top singles player Jacob Harustak will also have a shot to advance.
“It’s going to be a new experience for two-thirds of the team, so I just want them to go into it with a positive attitude and have fun while maintaining a desire to fight,” Gillette said. “If they leave it on the court then that's all a coach can ask for.”
This season has been as much about planting seeds for the future as it has been for competing in the present. As the Dragons enter the district tournament, Dallas knows it faces stiff competition. But the hope is the Dragons can throw a few wrenches into their opponents’ plans.