By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

As a freshman at McNary, Hannah Childress finished fourth in the state in doubles.

Now a senior, Childress is chasing similar success in singles.

“I’m really excited for this year. I’ve been practicing and I’m ready to compete,” said Childress, who finished third in the Greater Valley Conference last season. “I’ve just been working on my mental game and just staying relaxed during my matches and working on ball placement and getting up to the net and putting it away.”

West Albany junior Ceanne Elliot, who has won back-to-back GVC singles championships, should be the girl to beat. But Anya Gerasimova of West Salem, who was runner-up last season, has graduated.

A better finish in the district tournament would get Childress an easier draw at state. Childress lost her first round match at state last season but regrouped to win the singles consolation bracket.

“Singles is definitely more stressful but this is my third year playing singles competitively,” Childress said. “I think I’m ready. I’m going to do my best. That’s part of the mental aspect that I’ve been working on, relaxing and just giving it my all. That’s all I can do.”

Childress, who had spent the last two years playing at a tennis academy in Portland, also decided she didn’t want to play tennis in college, which has allowed her to relax entering her senior year.

“That changed the ball game a little bit,” Childress said. “The past two years I was just focused on making college level and playing collegiality. Now, that’s not a priority and I’m just having fun.”

Childress leads a strong group of McNary singles players, which also includes senior Katherine Perez.

Perez won three matches at the district tournament last season before running into Elliot in the quarterfinals. She spent the summer playing in tournaments with her father.

“I want to at least finish fourth in districts,” Perez said. “My serves have gotten a lot better, definitely. They’re a lot more consistent and more powerful. My forehand, I have a lot more spin on it.”

McNary swept singles as the Lady Celts won 5-3 at Aloha on March 15.

Childress and Perez both won 6-0, 6-1. Tanveer Sandhu won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 singles. After dropping her first set 5-7, Avery Haymorwicz came back at No. 4 singles, winning 6-3, 6-2. McNary’s fifth point came at No. 4 doubles, where Juana Barajas and Trisha Faye Tan won 6-2, 6-0.

Matthew Osberg, a student teacher at McNary, is coaching the Lady Celts this season. Osberg previously coached two seasons at Pocatello High School in Idaho.

“I’m happy with the team,” Osberg said. “I feel like every practice I see improvement with each player. They’re really coachable and I’m feeling really positive about it.”