Sunday, June 26, 2022
June 26, 2022

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All-Region girls tennis: Faith Grisham, Columbia River

Senior went entire season without dropping a set on her way to 2A state title

By , Columbian sports staff

Having won the first set and ahead 5-2 in the second, four points from a state title, Columbia River senior Faith Grisham wasn’t thinking about victory.

She was thinking about the moment as still in the first set — as in no pressure, stay focused, just win the set.

“It was pretty nerve-racking,” Grisham said about being in the 2A championship match last month. “But I tried not to think about the outcome and that helped a lot.

“I tried to think that it was the first set and I was up 5-2. That way I would avoid choking.”

There wasn’t going to be any choking, and just like every match she played all season, Grisham closed out Ana Rios of Foster 6-2, 6-2 to claim her first state title.

Columbia River senior Faith Grisham talks about her decision to attend Biola University in the fall. Video

Grisham never had to play a three-set match her senior season. She only lost 19 games during all those straight-set victories. Her dominating performance in 2019 made her the obvious choice for The Columbian’s All-Region girls tennis player of the year for the second year in a row.

It’s been a steady climb for Grisham, who’ll be playing at Biola University next year. She qualified for state all four years and placed higher in each 2A tournament from her sophomore season to this one.

“I’ve grown significantly as a player since then,” Grisham said thinking back to her first district title as a freshman when Columbia River was a 3A school. “I’ve put in lots of work, developed new skills to put in the toolbox so that’s helped me win a lot.”

She’s depended a lot on her teammates and coach at Columbia River. Kevin Erickson has overseen the program the last two seasons and has helped Grisham with practice matches, drills after practice and on weekends and helped her get her shots perfected before the next match.

“It’s really amazing that he’s dedicated so much time,” she said.

Staying focused through the season wasn’t difficult for Grisham as she set goals for each match she played.

“Whether it’s serve-and-volley or hit swinging volleys, drop shots, coming into the net,” she listed. “It’s so I can improve as much as I can in every match. I think it’s important to stay focused.”

And stay focused she did.

Grisham didn’t drop a game at the 2A sub-district or district tournaments, but had to beat teammate Piper Rylander for the district title.

“That was also very nerve-racking because I felt pressure to win and I really wanted to win,” Grisham said. “It’s hard to play a teammate. You practice with them, you are friends … but I executed well.”

She did drop a few games at state, but looking at the results — 6-1, 6-1; 6-0, 6-2; 6-0, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-2 — it didn’t seem to matter.

“I felt calm and super prepared and that there was nothing else I could do to be in a better position,” Grisham said of entering the state final. “I had a feeling I was going to win. It was just a matter of how I was going to win. I had to battle for every point. … It was fun though.”

Rest of the All-Region team

Leilani Gonzalez, freshman, Skyview: 4A GSHL singles player of the year, 4A district champion, state qualifier.

Shreya Bhatra, junior, Mountain View: 3A GSHL singles player of the year, 3A district champion, state qualifier.

Nicole Knudtson, senior, and Miriam Muntean, junior, Union: third at 4A state doubles, 4A district and bi-district champions.

Paige Wilson, senior, and Beyonce Bea, senior, Washougal: fifth at 2A state.

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