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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

Evergreen Tennis sending its first junior team to USTA nationals

Group of 18-under players finished second at sectional

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: September 12, 2016, 9:16pm

The first group to represent Evergreen Tennis in Junior Team Tennis competition did not take long to make a name for itself.

Based on a 27-3 record in league play this summer, and a second-place finish in sectional competition, the group of area high school tennis players was invited to play in the United States Tennis Association Junior Team Tennis National Championships. The tournament takes place Oct. 20-23 in South Carolina.

Evergreen Tennis will be one of 16 teams in the advanced division of the tournament for players 18-and-younger. They were given a wild-card berth after losing to a team from Mercer Island in the Pacific Northwest Sectional finals.

This will be a new experience for the players, but not for coach Matt Houser, who played on three Vancouver Tennis Center teams that qualified for the Junior Team Tennis Nationals.

His positive experience playing Junior Team Tennis was the motivation for starting a team at Evergreen Tennis. The facility in Camas opened in March of 2015.

“I had a great experience playing Junior Team Tennis. I wanted to make sure kids had the same opportunity,” said Houser, thanking Evergreen Tennis owner and manager Caryn Vitek for the chance to start a team.

Players who will represent Evergreen Tennis at nationals are Bjorn Morfin, Brian Wang, Wilson Ho, Sydney Wallace, Samantha Merrill, and Grace Maxey. Maxey is a substitute who played for Glendoveer in Portland. Each team is allowed to pick up one player from another club for nationals. Mckenzie Schreiner, Algird Zalpys, and Darrian Manalo played for Evergreen Tennis this summer but will not travel to nationals.

Houser said friendships and the chance to meet peers from other teams around the region and the nation were his favorite part of playing junior team tennis. The coach said watching friendships grow among his players over the summer was as rewarding as their success on the court.

A third-place finish for Houser’s 2007 VTC team was the best result he experienced at a national tournament. His advice for these players is to embrace the opportunity.

“Everything is an opportunity for success,” Houser said. “Every time you go on the court is a new opportunity and a chance to be successful whether you or having the best day of your life or the worst day of your life.”

Wang and Ho are doubles partners on the Camas High boys tennis team and also play doubles together for Evergreen Tennis. Wang said that playing competitive team tennis during the summer gave him valuable match experience. For example, it helped him learn to control his emotion when the momentum turned against them.

“(Team tennis) helped me with my mental game,” said Wang. “It’s taught me how to handle frustration better.”

Wang said friendships developed gradually among the players over the summer, and that team chemistry blossomed at the sectionals.

In pool play, Evergreen Tennis is paired with teams from New York, the Washington, D.C., area and from Los Gatos, Calif.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter