Patricia Dougherty asked her father, Dale, to coach the team at Klamath Union after the passing of coach Mary Young.
Patricia Dougherty asked her father, Dale, to coach the team at Klamath Union after the passing of coach Mary Young.

A year ago, Klamath Union's Patricia Dougherty was on the way to defending her 4A/3A/2A/1A girls tennis singles title when she got a much-needed wake-up call.

Dougherty lost in her district final to then-freshman Raegan Farm of North Bend in three sets, forcing her to refocus for the state tournament, where she defeated Farm 6-3, 7-6 in the final.

“She played really, really well at districts, and I just had to think about what she did, and then react to that,” Dougherty said. “I knew exactly what I wanted to work on. I completely changed my strategy.”

Now a senior, Dougherty has a chance to accomplish a rare feat. She is looking to win a third consecutive OSAA title to follow the 4A Showcase championship she won in the COVID-shortened season as a freshman.

And once again, she expects Farm to be standing in the way. The two are on a collision course to meet in the Special District 3 tournament next week and again at the state tournament May 23-25 at Oregon State University.

“I'm excited to play Raegan,” said Dougherty, who has dominated her competition this season. “Playing her each time is really fun, actually. I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm ready for it. I think this match will be really good because now we're 1-1 with each other.”

Winning a fourth title “would mean so much to me,” Dougherty said.

“I feel like there's a lot of pressure on me this year to do that,” she said. “I feel like if I end up doing that, it will relieve so much of that pressure. It's something I've been working hard to do. I've been thinking about what I want to do on the court, especially against Raegan, because that's my toughest competition, for sure.”

Klamath Union coach Dale Dougherty, Patricia's father, said managing expectations will be key for her.

“She wants to do it, but at the same time, it's a burden more than a goal,” Dale said. “It's almost like you feel obligated, and then you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Patricia is hoping to go out on a high note, especially considering the state tournament could be the end of her competitive tennis career. She toyed with the idea of pursuing college tennis opportunities at Oregon, Duke and Wisconsin, but has decided to forgo playing after high school to pursue a nursing degree at nearby Oregon Tech.

“I want to become a pediatrics nurse, and I don't want anything to get in the way of me doing that for my future,” she said. “Tennis has just been really hard for me over the years. I'm just really focused on the future career that I want to have.”

With that in mind, she is savoring this season.

“I've been appreciating it a lot more because it has been a big part of my life,” she said. “This potentially becoming my last competitive tennis match is bittersweet, for sure.”

Patricia grew up around the game. Dale has been a tennis instructor at Harbor Isles Tennis and Fitness Club in Klamath Falls for most of her life.

“When she was born, I'd bring her out to lessons,” said Dale, who played at Grossmont College in Southern California. “I'd put her on her little blanket, and I'd give her tennis lessons.”

Said Patricia: “I feel like it was something I was kind of destined to do.”

One of Patricia's older sisters, Lily Inthisan, won a doubles state title for Klamath Union as a freshman in 2014. Patricia was a fast learner and was able to beat Lily by the time she was eight years old.

“She had the potential to be a top 100 player in the world,” Dale said of Patricia. “From an early age, you could see it was there. But she doesn't want to take it further into college tennis. I don't blame her.”

The 5-foot-7 Patricia excels with her athleticism. She played four years of varsity soccer, leading the team in scoring as a junior. On the tennis court, she has a full arsenal of weapons.

“She has every shot in the book, and she attacks with all of them,” Dale said. “Very aggressive player. Her strength is her aggressiveness.”

Counting Courtlyn Lam, who won the state singles title in 2018 and 2019, Klamath Union boasts the last five individual state champions. Patricia won her first two titles under coach Mary Young, who died of cancer in 2022.

“It was so fast. We were all surprised,” Dale said.

Young was a family friend to the Doughertys.

“It affected me for a little bit,” Patricia said. “I feel like we all have to grow from a situation like that. I ended up asking my dad to come and coach the girls tennis team, in honor of Mary, for sure.”

Dale agreed to take over the team. He said he will step aside after the season.

“It means a lot to me because I know it's something that isn't really ideal for him,” Patricia said. “It means a lot that he was willing to put in that work for me.”

Dale worked overtime with Patricia after she lost at district last year.

“Before that, she was going out with her friends, doing other stuff,” Dale said. “After she lost to Raegan, she asked to come back to the practice court. We worked really hard going into state.”

Patricia said she will bring a more consistent backhand into the state tournament this year. As for strategy, she will just trust in her game.

“My strategy is to go out there and do my thing,” she said. “If that's not working during a match, I'm going to change it. But until then, I think I'll stick with what I was doing last year.”