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Trio of Crusader girls take Metro tennis championship

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit's Erin Larner won her fourth straight district championship on Saturday, beating Lincolns Cam Kincaid, 6-0, 6-1.

Contention and competition from Lincoln’s Emily and Taylor Rees brought out the best in Jesuit’s Darby Rosette and Meghana Rao at the Metro District Championship.

Looking for a fair fight all season, a team to test their skills and engrained chemistry against, the Crusader combination found it in an up-for-it set of sisters trying to carry on the Cardinals’ tradition of doubles’ distinction.

It wasn’t trouble-free, not in the slightest, but Rosette and Rao were able to rally when needed and play united tennis when the Reeses went on point sprees and long rallies. Rosette and Rao — the long-time friends who started playing together at the age of eight — came up with the big shots and serves, pulling out a 6-2, 6-2 win on Saturday at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center to end Lincoln’s three-year run of district doubles’ titles.

“It was a sweet ending,” said Rao. “It was awesome to be out there with Darby and be able to share it together. Today we had a lot of good competition. Both matches against Beaverton and Lincoln really pushed us. It was good to get pushed and play our game to the fullest.”

Rosette said she and Rao were “really nervous” before the championship match, yet stayed within themselves and focused on their games, not the Cardinals across the net.

“We pumped each other up the entire time,” said Rosette. “We had struggles, but we really keep each other up. We know what to tell each other at different points. If we’re down, or we miss we know what to tell each other.”

Rosette and Rao got ahead 5-0 in the first set, lost a couple games to the Cardinals, but were able to recover and take it 6-2. In the second set with Rosette serving and Rao taking care of the net Jesuit broke its Metro archrival to go up 4-1. Lincoln stayed tough, not letting Rosette and Rao roar to a rollicking win, though the Crusaders were able pull away in the second set, 6-2.

“The score doesn’t reflect how long each game was,” said Rao. “Most of the games were really close. Both teams played really well. Each rally felt like a million shots, but those are fun to play in because you don’t get those all the time.”

“We had to start strong to keep that lead up in the second set,” said Rosette. “I went on the court not knowing what was going to happen. It could’ve gone either way.”

Rosette was part of Jesuit’s doubles’ squad that was beat twice by Lincoln’s Allie and Kadie Hueffner last season, first at the district meet, then at state. The long-standing four-year feud for district bragging rights in all three phases of Metro tennis: singles, doubles and team-wise has without fail come down to Jesuit and Lincoln. This year, the Crusaders were to assert ownership of the district, beating the Cardinals once in the regular season and at districts as a program. Now, the Crusaders hope to go for the clean sweep at the 6A state championships this weekend at Portland Tennis Center May 22-23 before moving back to THTC on May 25 for the championship matches.

“It’s always been a good rivalry between Jesuit and Lincoln,” said Rosete. “We’ve gotten to the point that we’ve seen each other for so long and played together for so long that we’re friends.”

“The rivalry between our schools makes us better,” said Rao. “It’s not like we’re mean to each other, but we push each other to get better.”

Unscathed for her entire high school career, Jesuit senior Erin Larner stayed undefeated on Saturday, beating Lincoln’s Cam Kincaid 6-0, 6-1. It was a hard-fought contest, with taxing, prolonged points that tested each competitor’s fitness level. Larner’s stamina and focus to outweigh that of Kincaid’s, as the Crusader senior was able to stay in the points, follow through on her shots and get enough power on them to knock Kincaid off-kilter. Kincaid made a number of athletic saves, but Larner’s persistence and relentless rallying wore on the Cardinal as Larner rolled to her fourth straight title.



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