The Childress sisters of McNary High School are making the most of their one opportunity to play together on the Celtics’ girls tennis team, and they’re just two wins away from a district championship.
Separated by three years, Sandy, a senior, and Hannah, a freshman, combine to form the top-ranked doubles team at the Greater Valley Conference district meet and Friday they eased into the semifinals with two victories at Salem Tennis and Swim Club.
The duo began the day with a 6-0, 6-0 win over the South Salem team of Lydia Moeller and Miyabi Sugawara, then took out Hannah Farnes and Emma Rouzaud of West Albany 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, a win which clinched a berth in next week’s state tournament regardless of their results today.
Hannah Childress, who is several inches taller than her older sister, said the they complement each other with different court strengths and mentalities. Sandy’s the better net player while Hannah is most comfortable playing at the baseline.
Sandy’s experience as a state player two of the last three years also helps.
“I just tell (Hannah) not to be nervous,” said Sandy Childress of the big stage atmosphere. “It’s just like another match.”
The Childress girls will face the No. 4 seed doubles team of Samantha Purdy and Shay Bristow of McMinnville at 9 a.m. today in the semifinals.
Much of the play on the second day of the tournament was dominated by players from West Albany, McMinnville and Forest Grove as those schools combined for six of the eight semifinalists in the singles and doubles matches.
Aside from the Celtics’ doubles team, the only other Salem-area player to reach the semis was Jillian Studer of South Salem.
Studer is the No. 4 seed in the singles and she downed both of her Friday opponents with relative ease.
The sophomore’s day began with a win against Lesley Aguilar of Forest Grove 6-1, 6-1 and continued with another victory, in the quarterfinals, versus Kelsey Allen of McMinnville 6-0, 6-3.
The second triumph earned Studer an automatic place in the state meet, which she also competed in as a freshman.
“I felt like I was on top of (my game) and doing the best I could and taking a few risks,” Studer said of her play Friday. “I felt like I’ve really improved these last couple of days just having these challenging matches and playing these awesome players.”
She’ll have a big challenge in her semifinal match against the top-seeded Alex Sorte of West Albany, who defeated South Salem’s Jessa Miller in another quarterfinal. Sorte is undefeated in GVC singles matches this season, including a 6-0, 6-0 win against Studer at the beginning of the season.
“(Sorte’s) a very solid player. It’s difficult to get much off of her, but I’m looking forward to seeing how much I’ve improved over the season because I played her towards the start of the year,” said Studer.
Elsewhere in singles play, Kaitlyn Cranston of North Salem lost in the quarterfinals to No. 2 seed Caitlan Baker of McMinnville 6-1, 6-0 and West Salem’s Anya Gerasimova put up a good fight in a second-round match against McMinnville’s Kelsey Allen but lost, 7-5, 6-3.
In doubles action, Ariana Neads and Sami Trowbridge of McNary lost a thrilling three-set match against Ellie Cale and Alyvia Sams of West Albany 6-7, 7-5, 6-3.
In the doubles consolation bracket the Sprague team of Morgan Coursey and Emily Schmelling advanced to today’s final with an 8-4 victory against South Salem’s Abigail Cook and Madison Stone.
The Olys pair came into the tournament as the No. 6 seed but were upset in the first round by McNary’s Rachel Morrow and Ami Chikatsu.
Coursey and Schmelling will face Cassidy Dixon and Maria Galvan of Forest Grove, who advanced due an injury to the South Salem team of Megan Edleblute and Katherine Graney that forced the Saxons to retire.
The accident happened in the second game of the match when Edleblute hurt her left leg while lunging for a ball. She stayed down on the court for several minutes receiving attention from her coach and trainer before eventually requiring a paramedic team.
In the consolation singles bracket, North Salem’s Haylee Stevens and Sprague’s Janel Luk each made it to the semifinals before succumbing to defeat, 8-6 and 8-5, respectively.