Lincoln's Will Semler came through in the clutch in the 6A final against Southridge's Vitomir Petcov. (Photo by Chris Burkhardt)
Lincoln's Will Semler came through in the clutch in the 6A final against Southridge's Vitomir Petcov. (Photo by Chris Burkhardt)

BEAVERTON – Will Semler is the first to admit that he wasn't on top of his game in pursuing a third consecutive boys singles title this week in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A tournament at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.

But the Lincoln senior summoned enough physical and mental energy to complete the three-peat, turning back a stern challenge from Southridge senior Vitomir Petcov in Saturday's final.

The top-seeded Semler had to win two set tiebreakers to defeat the second-seeded Petcov 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9). He trailed the second-set tiebreaker 6-3 but fought off three set points to win 11-9.

The gritty victory came one day after Semler dropped the first set before coming back to beat the No. 3 seed, Mountainside sophomore Arnav Arora, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals.

“It was a battle,” Semler said of the tournament. “I've been working on trying to compete. I'm not happy with the level, but I couldn't be more proud of myself for the way I competed in this tournament. I was on the ropes, and I learned more about myself in this tournament.

“I love to fight. It's all about competing for me. I'm just out here to fight.”

Semler didn't get a chance to be a four-time state champion because the COVID crisis wiped out his freshman season. Lincoln coach Stuart Allen marveled at how Semler rose above challenges throughout his career.

“You all know him as an athlete. I know him as a human, the way he leads, the way he inspires everybody,” Allen said. “I can't imagine the pressure this kid's been under. Just all this weight on his shoulders.”

Semler has struggled in rebuilding his game in the past year under the direction of his future coach at the University of San Diego, Ryan Keckley, but said he succeeded at state by putting his “heart on the line.”

“I had probably the hardest year because I basically changed my game,” Semler said. “It's the most special (title). … It was extra special to do it in front of all my friends and family.”

Allen reflected on Semler's career coming to a close.

“I adore the kid,” Allen said. “I'm just thrilled to be part of his journey. I'm going to miss him.”

Semler credited Petcov for pushing him in the final. Petcov defeated Semler's sophomore brother, Tiger, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and beat Jesuit senior Reif Larsen, the No. 4 seed, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.

“He's improved a lot,” Will Semler said of Petcov, who plans to play in college at the University of Redlands (Calif.). “He's committed himself to the sport. He has big hopes, and he's got a big future ahead of him.”

In 6A doubles, the second-seeded West Linn team of senior Keyan Fernando and junior Rhyson Chiang won the title by defeating the top-seeded West Linn duo of senior Grant Hawkins and junior Zach Steinberg 6-2, 6-4.

It came one week after Hawkins/Steinberg beat Fernando/Chiang in the Three Rivers League district final.

“In the district finals, we didn't really know what they were going to do,” Chiang said. “This time, we kind of knew what was going to happen.”

Last year, Chiang and then-senior Cameron Paulsen entered the state tournament with the No. 1 seed but lost in the championship match to a team from Sunset.

“I was like, 'I don't know if I want to be in that spot twice in a row,'” Chiang said.

Jesuit added to its state record by winning its 23rd state championship, its first since 2019. The Crusaders scored 22 points to beat West Linn (19), Lincoln (16) and Lake Oswego (14).

5A boys

It was a big tournament for La Salle Prep, which claimed titles in singles and doubles and took home its first team championship since winning the 4A/3A/2A/1A crown in 2011.

The Falcons outscored reigning champion Summit 21-18 for first place. Crescent Valley (8) and Caldera (5) were next.

La Salle Prep's top-seeded senior duo of Aidan McBride and Ryder McCoy-Hansen beat the No. 3 seed, Summit juniors Alex Lindsay and Austin Berg, 6-2, 6-3 in the doubles final. McBride and McCoy-Hansen did not drop a set in the tournament.

McBride was the state singles champion in 2022 but lost in the first round last year.

“Coach told me that it was a better shot for state if I played doubles,” McBride said. “I was contemplating it in preseason, and then I just decided to go for it with Ryder. It worked out. It took a little bit to get used to playing doubles, but Ryder is such a good partner.

“It's just good to be back, because last year I didn't do so well and I was frustrated.”

La Salle Prep freshman Kaiden Harris, seeded third, won the singles title by defeating Crescent Valley junior Richard Wang, the No. 1 seed, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 in the final. Harris' title came shortly after his junior sister, Kennedy, won the 5A girls singles championship for La Salle Prep on an adjacent court.

6A girls

Clackamas senior Lauren Han, the No. 1 seed, won her second singles title in three seasons by turning back Jesuit senior Carissa Gerung, the No. 2 seed, 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match.

Han's experience on the big stage helped give her an edge, she said.

“It's my third time being in the finals, so I feel like I knew what to expect coming into it,” Han said. “I just wanted to stay focused throughout the whole match.”

Han won the title as a sophomore and was the top seed last year but lost in the final to then-senior Neena Feldman of Westview 7-5, 6-1, the player she defeated in the 2022 final. Han struggled with unforced errors in last year's championship match but was on point Saturday.

“I feel like last year I played really tight, so this year I just wanted to manage my emotions and just focus on the match, each ball, all the time,” she said. “I'm super excited to go out on top.”

Mountainside captured the doubles title with seniors Arushi Arora and Thara Rao, the No. 2 seed. They beat Sheldon's top-seeded team of senior Emerson Kearney and sophomore Hayden Kearney 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Arora has been a successful singles player throughout her career, making the state quarterfinals in 2023, but joined up with Rao before district.

“I've always wanted to get this far in a state tournament, but I've just never made it with such good competition,” Arora said. “When we entered doubles, I was like, 'Yeah, we're taking this all the way.'”

Arora and Rao bounced back from a slow start in the final.

“I think we realized we needed to play more of our game,” Rao said. “We were being defensive in the first set. Once we started being more aggressive, and especially me, it all came together.”

Jesuit repeated as team champion, scoring 16 points to top Mountainside (12), Westview (11), Clackamas (10), Sheldon (10) and Sprague. The Crusaders have won a record 17 team titles.

“There were a lot of teams that had more numbers than we did,” Jesuit coach Kirsten Ruchaber said. “So my girls knew they had to go match by match, point by point, until the end, because anything could have happened.”

5A girls

La Salle Prep junior Kennedy Harris picked up her third singles title, dropping Crescent Valley sophomore Emily Gu in the championship match for the second year in a row.

The top-seeded Harris battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to win 7-5, 6-1 over the second-seeded Gu. Last year, Harris beat Gu 6-4, 6-2 for the title.

“It's amazing,” Harris said of her third championship. “It's a little more emotion this time. I was really looking forward to this one because there's just one more to get.”

Harris said she was “a little unfocused” while falling into a 3-0 hole to start the match.

“I didn't think I was playing well and Emily was playing great,” she said. “Then I was like, 'I have to fight for every point.' And that's how I won the first set.

“There have been so many matches I've played where I've been down 2-5 and I've won it 7-5. So I'm a little used to kicking it up a notch and getting more focused to win that set.”

Harris had to turn it around while her freshman brother, Kaiden, was playing in the 5A boys singles final on the next court.

“I do look over,” she said. “I try to see how he's doing.”

Redmond's doubles team of seniors Brynn Capps and Grace Stott, seeded fourth, defeated the unseeded Ridgeview team of senior Sydney Cassaro and junior Darrian Streater 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1 to win the title. Capps/Stott went 4-0 against Cassaro/Streater this season, including a win in the Intermountain Conference district tournament.

The title capped a four-year run for the tandem.

“There was a lot of pressure built up, but we kind of just relied on each other,” Stott said.

Capps and Stott knocked off Crescent Valley's top-seeded team of senior Zoe Hughes and freshman Allison Li 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals.

“This environment was incredible,” Capps said. “It was really tough to play because there was so much going on around us. But we stuck with it.”

Crescent Valley completed a three-peat, scoring 12 points to edge La Salle Prep (11), Summit (11) and Redmond (10) for the team title.