By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s boys tennis team won’t be the most experienced bunch in the Greater Valley Conference.

But the Celtics are already proving to be quick learners.

Brayden Lyda, a basketball player, and Emil Salmhofer, a soccer player from Austria, didn’t pick up a tennis racket for the first time until two weeks before the season.

But Lyda and Salmhofer won their first match, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles on Thursday, March 15 against Aloha.

“We practiced pretty hard these last two weeks and it paid off,” Lyda said with a giant grin.

“I feel like we just have good chemistry out on the court. We’re friends obviously and I think that’s a big part of it.”

“We thought it would be fun to play, and we’re actually pretty good,” Salmhofer added. “We had fun playing. We made no mistakes. Usually we make a couple of mistakes.”

Lyda had watched Alfredo Villarreal, a basketball teammate, play tennis last season and thought it looked like fun.

“They’re pretty good athletes,” McNary head coach Marc McAvoy said. “It’s amazing how fast they picked it up. It really is.”

McAvoy, a long-time tennis coach in the district at McKay and North Salem, is back for his second stint at McNary.

“I just missed coaching,” said McAvoy, behavioral specialist at Claggett Creek Middle School and freshman basketball coach at McNary. “It’s kind of my thing. I love doing it. McNary always puts out  really good quality character kids and it’s a lot of fun to work with a kid like that. It’s a really good group. There’s a lot to learn, a long ways to go but really, really good kids.”

The Celtics have 15 boys on the team this season from four different countries. McNary has three exchange students—Salmhofer (Austria), Pong Sae-ku (Thailand) and Zamour Sieben (Germany).

“People are going to accuse me of traveling the world to recruit but it just landed in my lap,” McAvoy joked.

Two returning players, Adam Graneto and Villarreal, both juniors, opened the season at No. 1 and 2 singles for the Celtics. Sieben is playing 3 singles and Luke Skipper, a freshman, is at 4 singles.

Matt Dice and Noah Kuhl make up McNary’s No. 1 doubles team.

McAvoy convinced three of his freshmen basketball players to try tennis—Tristan Proctor, Ben Roth and Kyle Martin. Roth and Martin opened the season at 3 doubles.

McNary lost its first match 5-1 to Aloha but Skipper led 6-4, 1-0 when his match was called due to rain. Sieben was also unable to finish after losing the first set 4-6 but winning the second 6-2.

The Celtics are back home Tuesday, April 3 for a league match against McKay at 4 p.m.