Monday, January 30, 2023
Jan. 30, 2023

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River’s Piper Rylander, Prairie’s Emma Tuttle become tennis team leaders

Pair go from eager up-and-comers to steadfast seniors

By , Columbian sports staff
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Prairie High senior Emma Tuttle is the Falcons' No. 1 singles player. She has high hopes for a spring season that is just getting started.
Prairie High senior Emma Tuttle is the Falcons' No. 1 singles player. She has high hopes for a spring season that is just getting started. (Photos by Jeff Klein/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

From up-and-coming players to senior leaders, Piper Rylander of Columbia River and Emma Tuttle of Prairie have grown into tennis.

The pair have known each other from their days as kids learning the sport at Vancouver Tennis Center.

As high school sophomores, they were part of a group of four promising players from four different schools in Clark County who all became friends through VTC instruction.

Now it’s down to just Rylander and Tuttle.

They are both No. 1 singles players on their teams, taking on roles as senior leaders even though they didn’t see it coming right away.

“As a sophomore, I was not really a leader because we had a lot of really good players and a lot of seniors,” Rylander said. “Now that I’m a senior, I feel more like a leader who can help a lot.”

Tuttle figured as Prairie’s top player, she would take on a leadership role.

“I talked with my coach about being the captain, because I never thought I’d be able to do that,” she said. “I think I’m trying my best to step up to that leadership position.

“I just want to be a role model and I’m working on that.”

Rylander’s season is almost over as the 2A Greater St. Helens League wraps up this week. Tuttle’s season is just starting with the 4A/3A GSHL getting under way last week.

The two managed to play quite a bit during the extended time off and the results show.

Rylander was undefeated at No. 1 singles through last week and even pulled out a three-set comeback victory at Washougal.

“I’ve never stopped training,” Rylander said. “I’ve been basically been playing all year.”

Tuttle hasn’t lost in the few matches she’s played, but her training has been a start-and-stop process with her tennis club closing and reopening depending on COVID-19 restrictions.

“I didn’t play for like a month, which was weird because I hadn’t done that in a while,” Tuttle said.

She was able to get outside and play with friends, eventually hit with a coach, and has recently started working with a personal trainer.

Rylander said she learned a lot playing behind former Columbia River player and 2A state champion Faith Grisham.

“I’m a more consistent player, mentally and physically,” she said about her growth over the years. “Faith helped a lot.“

Tuttle has also worked on her mental game after focusing so much on technique.

“I can get really frustrated and disappointed in myself when I don’t do what I know I can do,” she said. “So I’m focusing on not getting frustrated and just having fun.”

The fun may just continue into college for both players. Tuttle plans on playing tennis at Linfield in McMinnville, Ore., and Rylander at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Both schools are in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.

“I know! That’s so funny,” Tuttle said. “We are going to be opponents. I’m excited.”

Rylander said it’s been competitions with Tuttle that has pushed her.

“She’s always been a bit better than me, and it’s always nice to having that competition,” Rylander said. “I’m pushing to be at her level. And that’s why I’m going to play college tennis.”