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Crusaders return Peter Murphy, seven doubles state qualifiers to district stage

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jesuit junior Peter Murphy is the Metro Leagues two-time defending district singles champion who is chasing another crown this weekend.

Top-to-bottom there's almost no debate that the Metro League boys' tennis district standing is best in the state.

Jesuit's clout alone could carry the district with two-time defending Class 6A state champion Peter Murphy along with 6A doubles champs Tommy Kallgren, Julian D'Abreo and 6A doubles runner ups Spencer and Connor Barnett in the lineup.

But what puts Metro on another tier is the voluminous amount of big-time programs and individuals coming from these various tennis-crazed circles of the Beaverton area. Westview has produced both singles state finalists and state champions over the last half-decade. Sunset wrestled away a team state title from Jesuit years ago. Those two super steady programs are always in the mix for a top showing in the postseason because of their per annum ability to produce stars. Mountainside is on the move, Southridge perennially finds a way to compete and Beaverton and Aloha can't be counted out. The Metro district tournament for both the boys and the girls begins with early round action on Thursday and Friday. The semifinals will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday at THRPD and the finals are slated to begin around noon.

"You have a long history of excellence in the Metro League," Jesuit head coach Jeff Wood said. "Even the schools that finish in the .500 area are tough. There is always going to be somebody out there in Metro who has some good players, too. We kind of chew each other up. Whether or not that happens this year, I'm not sure, but we'll find out."

Jesuit is the prohibitive favorite to win Metro again with Murphy and seven of its eight state doubles players ready to take on Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District this week. But three of the district's four singles' district semifinalists graduated, meaning there will be a trio of brand new state qualifiers come Saturday afternoon. That novelty, with state meet tickets on the line, great weather predicted for the weekend and zealous crowds surrounding the outdoor courts should produce some high-level tennis.

"The kids love it," Wood said. "When the matches have that drama and there's something on the line, when it's you win you move forward, you lose you don't, it sort of raises the adrenaline in the room. The ones who are true competitors are going to embrace that. I'm lucky because that's who my guys are."

In addition to the all-Crusader state doubles final quartet back in the lineup, Jesuit has senior Charlie Law, junior Ariel Gomez, sophomore Wyatt Warrington and four freshmen who can all play doubles. The district lineup wasn't set until Tuesday night, giving Jesuit's athletes plenty of time to compete for those coveted postseason roster spots. While the Crusaders have been tested over the years, it's rare a team has the ammunition to overthrow that reign. With so much championship pedigree taking the THRPD courts again this weekend, the target is on Jesuit's back, as it is every spring.

"I can't say we've gotten used to it, but if we're the motivation, that's fine, we'll take it," Wood said. "So far the guys year in and year out have risen to the challenge for the most part."

With all of the Hillsboro schools migrating out Metro for the Pacific Conference, each Beaverton-area program was able to play each other twice during the regular season. Jesuit ended the year atop the standings at 9-0 with Westview (10-1), Sunset (8-4) and Mountainside (5-5-1) finishing second through fourth. Wood signaled out Westview seniors Adam Shinomiya, Andrew Vu and junior Matthew Kim as a formidable trio of singles players who Murphy will have to weather in the Metro bracket. Mountainside freshman Ryan Lim is another singles standout who is on the rise.

"Anytime you have a No. 1 for a big school, they hit a pretty good ball," Wood said.

Wood said Murphy still has his next level and endurance, but he's stronger as a junior and hitting "a heavier ball" than last year. Murphy actually lost the final of the Jesuit Tournament to Summit sophomore Nate Bonetto 6-2, 6-1, but bounced back and closed out the regular season in typically dominant fashion.

"He loves the battle," Wood said. "He got back on the horse after losing to Bonetto, processed that the right way, which is what a good competitor does. He loves the challenge. He wants his opponents to play better because he knows he can get more out of it. He's going to be tough to beat."


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