By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary tennis coach Garrett Jensen was surprised at the number of girls that came out after the Lady Celts graduated nearly half their team last season.

“We’ve got a lot of girls, 22,” Jensen said. “We picked up just as many as we lost.”

McNary is once again led by junior Hannah Childress, who finished third in the Greater Valley Conference and then lost in the second round of the 6A state tournament last season.

While the goal is to improve on that mark, it won’t be easy for Childress, who must go through West Salem senior Anya Gerasimova, West Albany sophomore Ceanne Elliot and South Salem sophomore Abby Fedor.

Childress lost to Gerasimova 3-6, 1-6 on March 23.

“Anya’s stepped up her game this past year,” Jensen said. “All four of them are really good players so we have a strong district at our No. 1 singles level.”

While rain has prevented the Lady Celts from completing two of its first three scheduled matches against McMinnville and West Salem, McNary did fall to South Salem 7-1 on March 22.

Childress had the only win, defeating freshman Abby Fedor 7-6, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.

The surprise of the team is Katherine Perez, who has made the jump from playing No. 3 doubles most of last season to No. 2 singles.

“My dad got me a coach over the summer and he too would coach me because we’d watch Youtube videos together,” said Perez, who got a membership at Courthouse Fitness over the summer after giving tennis a try for the first time last spring.

“I was very impressed when we got to the first couple of practices and she made a pretty big jump this past year, a dramatic increase in her” Jensen said. “She just gets the ball back. She’s a really solid player.”

Senior Dianna Cervantes played No. 3 singles against South Salem but much of McNary’s team is freshmen and sophomores. Freshman Avery Haymowicz was at No. 4 singles while five of the eight doubles players were sophomores.

“It’s great because that’s a couple of years that they can develop but a lot of new people and a lot of new faces on varsity,” Jensen said. “A lot of it’s pretty basic, too. It’s learning the scores and learning where to stand on the court.”

The Lady Celts next home match is Thursday, April 13 at North Salem.