The Portland State men’s tennis team hosted the Big Sky Conference Pacific Regionals at the Eastmoreland Racquet Club over the weekend and lost every game.
One bright spot for the men, according to Portland State coach Leslie Lewis, was the play of Michael Thoeresz.
“Michael has won the most matches of anyone on the team, and as a freshman, he’s only going to get better. He was really only just starting to come into it at the end of the year, and this was after taking a year off. If he keeps working hard over the summer, he could go to the NCAAs next year just based on his own merit,” Lewis said.
“He would need someone to complement him, though, and the other guys on the team just don’t have the experience. Michael’s got a game face, and he’s a tough competitor. Hopefully next year Cody Hoversland will have improved a bit. He did a good job as a freshman and I think he can be an asset,” Lewis said.
The Portland State women can only hope for better results. The shorthanded team of five will travel to Ogden, Utah, this weekend to play their Big Sky Regional. “We’re keeping our sunny side up, but we’re going to be facing our toughest competition of the year,” Lewis said.
“This year’s host team, Weber State, went to the NCAAs last year and they’re tougher now. We also have to deal with Cal State Northridge, Cal State Sacramento and Northern Arizona. We really are in the toughest regional bracket of the Big Sky, the way it’s divided, and all of those schools are fully-funded,” Lewis said.
But Lewis maintains faith in her team.
“We’ve got a mountain to climb. These girls have not lost their focus or stopped trying their very best. They just keep plugging away. If they keep all that up I believe they could do it just based on grit,” Lewis said.
An imposing obstacle for the Vikings this year has been the sheer lack of participation. The women’s team has had to forfeit games and points because they didn’t have six women to play. In addition, players that would normally be facing the No. 3 or 4 player of the other team are forced to move up and face the No.1 or 2 player. With everyone playing higher competition, points become even more difficult to score.
Holly Meldahl and Melinda Johnson, the No. 1 and 2 players for the Viking women, have had to play in that situation all year long. Lewis said that the experience has helped their games a great deal.
“They really came into their own this year. They were here a year ahead of me and they’ve had to play the one and two slots. They’ve really had to play over their heads, but they’ve been working hard, and showing up, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for the team, and for Portland State and for myself. They never hit the wall, and they’ve always wanted to keep getting better,” Lewis said.
“We’ll have some new girls next year, and everyone should get to play in their proper positions. That really should make a difference,” Lewis said.
Going into the summer, recruiting becomes very important for the Vikings.
“Next year, we’ll either be a really solid team, or we’ll be back where we left off. There are four guys deciding on whether to go to Portland State, and there are a couple of ineligibles from this year that might be playing. So, we could have a completely new squad to put around Michael, or we could just have to start over,” Lewis said.
“Other than Michael, the rest of the guys just don’t have the necessary experience. When you don’t have that, you’ve just got to come into it with the attitude that you’re going to work twice as hard. I think some of the men did that,” Lewis concluded.