Beaverton senior Tannor Binder (left) is gunning for the reigning 6A champion, Lincoln junior Will Semler. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Beaverton senior Tannor Binder (left) is gunning for the reigning 6A champion, Lincoln junior Will Semler. (Photo by Jon Olson)

The way it shapes up, top-seeded Lincoln junior Will Semler and second-seeded Beaverton senior Tannor Binder appear to be on a collision course to meet in the boys singles final in the OSAA 6A tennis championships this week at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.

What many don't know, though, is that behind the scenes, those collisions have been happening on a regular basis.

Shortly after Semler defeated Binder in the 6A final last year, the two began training together. Semler had a different set of training partners last year, but many of them graduated. Last summer, he reached out to Binder, and the two have been playing against each other ever since.

“It's great. We 100 percent need each other to improve,” said Semler, a five-star recruit who has yet to commit to a college. “There's not many guys in Portland to train with that are at the level we got to. So we use each other.”

The training has extended beyond the court to the track and weight room.

“We're kind of killing ourselves with each other,” Semler said.

The regular matches have helped them sharpen their games.

“It's really good for us getting match play outside of USTA tournaments,” said Binder, who has signed with the University of Portland. “Yeah, it does cross my mind, like, I could be playing this guy at state. It's pretty cool. I feel like we've become more like buddies in the last year. I didn't really know him a lot the few years before.”

The two give each other feedback on how to improve.

“Because at the end of the day, him getting better helps me, and me getting better helps him,” Semler said. “We see that and take out the ego a little bit. We're friends off the court, but when it comes to the match, I feel like I'll be able to flip that switch pretty easily. I kind of go into killer mode where I try to take his head off.”

Binder said the last time he defeated Semler was about three years ago, but he has pushed him. Semler won 6-4, 7-6 (5) in last year's state final and 6-1, 1-6 (14-12) in their last official meeting at a junior tournament in January. In the latter match, Binder led the third-set tiebreaker 9-5 but was unable to capitalize on four match points.

“He almost got me,” Semler said. “Honestly, he probably deserved to win that match.”

For all their experience on the junior circuit, last year's state tournament – the first championships after the event was scrubbed in 2020 and 2021 – was uncharted territory for Semler and Binder.

“That match was a little bit sloppy,” Semler said. “Him and I don't really get the opportunity to play in front of that many people very often, so there was a lot of unsureness going out before the match, how you're going to feel, how you're going to deal with it. There was just a ton of momentum changes.”

The match was like a whirlwind, according to Binder.

“I remember it going really fast,” Binder said. “A lot of people there. We had a lot of good points. It was a battle. I remember I just fell a little bit short there at the end. It was a really fun match. I'm looking forward to possibly getting there again.”

Binder said he has shored up the weaknesses in his game in the past year. He said he is stronger mentally and physically, and most important, more confident.

“I want to go out there and I want to play aggressively this time, play more of my game,” Binder said. “I feel like he dictated points a little bit more in that match. I think this time, if I were to play in front of that many people, maybe my nerves would be a little bit better.

“I've just never been in that situation, a lot of eyes on you, and you're not really used to it. It's a cool feeling. It can be kind of scary, but fun at the same time.”

Binder's side of the bracket includes the No. 3 seed, West Linn senior Jaxson Ledwith, who made the semifinals last year before falling to Binder 6-0, 6-2. Semler's side of the bracket has the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, Lake Oswego senior Cooper Whittington and Mountainside freshman Arnav Arora, respectively.

If Semler and Binder do meet again in Saturday's final, they won't hold many secrets from each other.

“We know each other's games inside and out,” Semler said. “So when we're playing, it becomes a little bit of a mental battle.”

Said Binder: “Honestly, it could come down to whoever just has a better day. We both kind of know what our strengths and weaknesses are. It's just going to come down to who can execute it better.”

A look at the state tournaments this week:



Tualatin Hills Tennis Center (Thursday-Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Will Semler, Lincoln, jr.; 2. Tannor Binder, Beaverton, sr.; 3. Jaxson Ledwith, West Linn, sr.; 4. Cooper Whittington, Lake Oswego, sr.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Cameron Paulsen, sr./Rhyson Chiang, soph., West Linn; 2. Kei Watanabe, sr./Parsa Nasri, sr., Sunset; 3. Tristan Hernandez, fr./Victor Li, sr., Jesuit; 4. Simon Potter, jr./ Burke Reilly, sr., Grant

2022 team scores: Lincoln 21.5, Jesuit 19, West Linn 17, Lake Oswego 10, Sunset 10

Notes: Semler defeated Binder 6-4, 7-6 (5) in last year's state final and 6-1, 1-6 (14-12) in a junior tournament in January. … Watanabe/Nasri beat Paulsen/Chiang 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals last year on their way to the title, but Paulsen/Chiang got payback in the final of the Jesuit Tournament on April 15 by winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (5).


West Hills Racquet and Fitness Club (Friday), Tualatin Hills Tennis Center (Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Ben Bonetto, Summit, sr.; 2. Aiden Yeung, Milwaukie, fr.; 3. Hayden Elliott, West Albany, sr.; 4. Aiden Cruz, Caldera, soph.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Max Himstreet, jr./Zack Olander, sr., Summit; 2. Abe Tsai, soph./Noah Curtis, jr., Crescent Valley; 3. David Vo, jr./ Raymond Lien, jr., Parkrose; 4. Aidan MacLennon, sr./ Otto Haar, sr., Summit

2022 team scores: Crescent Valley 11, La Salle Prep 10.5, Wilsonville 10, Redmond 8

Notes: It is the first high school season for Bonetto, who attends an online school. He is rated as the No. 6 player in Oregon by … Yeung, who also attends school online, has dropped only five games in going 11-0. He won 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-0 over the reigning champion, unseeded La Salle Prep junior Aidan McBride.


OSU Tennis Complex, Timberhill Tennis Club (Friday-Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Zach Moore, Cascade, sr.; 2. EJ Roedl, Marist Catholic, fr.; 3. Ethan Tieu, Oregon Episcopal, sr.; 4. Haruto Zaitsu, St. Mary's, sr.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Jack Kiefer, sr./Peyton Tyner, jr., Marist Catholic; 2. Paul Kelly, sr./ Paul Capek, sr., The Dalles; 3. Richard Li, jr./Lucas Olander, soph., Oregon Episcopal; 4. Ben Rosenfeld, sr./ Lucas Holliday, sr., Catlin Gabel

2022 team scores: Catlin Gabel 20, Marist Catholic 18, Oregon Episcopal 9, Cascade 8.5

Notes: Moore, who cruised to the title last year, is undefeated this season. He has two wins over Roedl, 6-0, 6-0 on April 25 and 6-3, 6-3 on May 8. … Kiefer/Tyner were runners-up last year, losing 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 in the final to a senior team from Catlin Gabel.



Tualatin Hills Tennis Center (Thursday-Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Lauren Han, Clackamas, jr.; 2. Neena Feldman, Westview, sr.; 3. Carissa Gerung, Jesuit, jr.; 4. Sydney Board, Tigard, jr.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Kate DeVall, sr./Megan DeVall, sr., West Linn; 2. Ella Macpherson, fr./Arianna Graziadei, sr., Sunset; 3. Sofia Bell, sr./Mishi Batinkova, sr., Jesuit; 4. Tessa Rozendal, soph./Malavika Rahul, fr., Westview

2022 team scores: Westview 25, Jesuit 16, Clackamas 10, Sprague 9

Notes: The Dartmouth-bound Han became Clackamas' first girls champion last year, defeating Feldman 6-3, 6-4 in the final. She has won all but one game in her 16 matches this season. … Gerung reached the semifinals last year, losing to Feldman 6-0, 6-0. She lost to Feldman 6-2, 6-1 in the Metro League final May 8. … The DeValls of West Linn, semifinalists last year, are undefeated.


West Hills Racquet and Fitness Club (Friday), Tualatin Hills Tennis Center (Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Kennedy Harris, La Salle Prep, soph.; 2. Emily Gu, Crescent Valley, fr.; 3. Veronica Miller, Ashland, soph.; 4. Sophie Katz, Crescent Valley, jr.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Anna Nguyen, jr./Kiah Hollister, sr., Crescent Valley; 2. Mia Poppe, jr./Katie Scoggins, jr., Wilsonville; 3. Haley Bland, soph./Zoe Hughes, jr., Crescent Valley; 4. Talia Vivrett, sr./Savannah Witnauer, sr., Ashland

2022 team scores: Crescent Valley 16.5, La Salle Prep 8, North Bend 8, Ashland 7

Notes: Harris won last year's tournament, beating Miller 7-5, 6-0 in the semifinals and Katz 6-1, 6-0 in the final. … Gu has not lost this season. She defeated Harris 6-1, 6-7 (5), 10-6 on March 21. … Poppe/Scoggins were semifinalists last year. They lost to Nguyen/Hollister 6-2, 6-2 on May 3.


OSU Tennis Complex, Timberhill Tennis Club (Friday-Saturday)

Top singles seeds: 1. Raegan Farm, North Bend, fr.; 2. Patricia Dougherty, Klamath Union, jr.; 3. Bailey Bell, Philomath, jr.; 4. Ryan Lomber, Valley Catholic, soph.

Top doubles seeds: 1. Sophia Dube, sr./Marin Roseman, jr., Oregon Episcopal; 2. Elise Seals, soph./Brenda Ramirez, sr., Vale; 3. Lily Wand, sr./Amanda Perez, fr., Catlin Gabel; 4. Phoebie Larson, fr./ Stella Larson, fr., Marist Catholic

2022 team scores: Catlin Gabel 17, Oregon Episcopal 11, Klamath Union 8, Cascade 7

Notes: Dougherty, the reigning champion, fell to Farm 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the district final. It was the first time Farm has been taken to a third set this season. … Dube/Roseman won the championship last year. They beat Wand/Perez 6-2, 6-4 and 6-2, 6-2 in district play this season. … Seals/Ramirez were quarterfinalists last year.