Coach Charles Hahn calls senior Braden Thacker one the leaders on the Hudson’s Bay boys tennis team, even though the senior came into this season having never experienced a win.
Thacker had never won a varsity match as a player, and the Eagles had not won a team match since 2018, predating any of the current players.
And that was weighing on Thacker’s mind as he took the court last Thursday in a match against Battle Ground.
“We had just been talking before the match, and Braden was saying how he sure hoped he could get a varsity win before graduating,” Hahn said.
Then playing No. 3 doubles with his partner Hudson Wright, Thacker got that elusive first win last Thursday — 6-3, 6-2 over Kyle Davis and Josiah Lynch.
“I kind of had the mindset that it was going to happen this year,” Thacker said. “But once we got on the court, started playing them, it kind of felt like that day it was going to happen. We just went out and played our butts off. Got the win.”
The victory also propelled Bay to a 4-2 match win over Battle Ground, the Eagles’ second win of the fall.
“That’s two more wins than what we had last year, or the year before that,” Hahn said.
Hahn knows a thing or two about winning. He has been the longtime boys tennis coach at Clackamas High School, leading the Cavaliers to several state titles. In Oregon, boys tennis is played in the spring.
But in the fall, he coaches boys tennis at Bay, where he also teaches English and composition.
The Eagles’ first win of 2022 came in the season opener against Heritage on Sept. 8. The match went 3-3, with the Eagles winning on a tiebreaker.
Bay got its second win last Thursday without the need of a tiebreaker, a fact not lost of Bay players who had experienced some lean times.
“Afterwards, Sam Perlick, our No. 2 singles player, came up, put his arm around me and said softly ‘Coach, we got a win,’ ” Hahn said. “I’ll remember that until the day I die, and I don’t say that lightly. That moment means more than a state championship.”
The Bay team’s roster is made of an eclectic mix of players. Wright, Thacker’s doubles partner, is a former cross country runner. No. 1 singles player Tanner Koford is an all-league catcher on the Bay baseball team. Chris Terry, who plays No. 1 doubles, also plays baseball.
“We’ve got that cross-sport action going here,” Hahn said. “I told Tanner ‘Bring me some athletes. We can mold them into players and make a competitive team here.’ ”
Bay’s team sports 10 players, but they are a tight-knit group.
“I think this year, we all are coping really well with any adversity,” Thacker said. “Everyone gets along. It’s just a good team.”
Wright said he often switches between playing singles and doubles. But last Thursday against Battle Ground, he saw an opportunity to support his teammate.
“That day, I wanted to play with Braden,” Wright said. “We generally have the choice of playing singles or doubles. And I knew, like, this was the day. I wanted to get a win. I wanted to get a win for Braden.”
Thacker came out for tennis his freshman year at Bay. He took his sophomore season off. That was the COVID year when boys tennis was played in February and March.
But he returned last fall for his junior year and again this fall.
“I don’t know what I like about tennis,” Thacker said. “It’s something to do and stay active.”
And now that he’s got that first varsity win, what’s his next goal?
“Get another win,” he said.
Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.