Class of 2016
A look back
We spend a lot of time thinking about how the senior season didn't work out for the Class of 2020, but this was also senior year for our class of 2016 as many of them wrap up college. Since they have proved themselves as one of our great all-time teams, I thought a look back might be fun for them and inspirational for our current players.
Before I go into story time, I want to extend our best wishes as they move on to their next roles. Lots of our graduating years have patterns in where they head after graduation. I'm super-impressed with each 2016 graduate discovering and pursuing their own interests. To the best of my knowledge, they have plans to pursue management, the Air Force, film, merchandising, veterinary sciences, nursing, tattoo artistry (not the usual pick for SHS Valedictorians), daycare, teaching, parenting, accounting, advocating and coaching. We wish them all the best. Our team is like a family, and we are grateful for the good memories and support they've provided us as both players and alums.
Thank you to the SHS Class of 2016:
2013: The Journey Begins:
Earning a spot on the 2013 varsity team was no easy task. The 2013 team featured 12 seniors and held pretty much every Sherwood Tennis record that existed. By the end of 2013, they had racked up over 120 consecutive league doubles wins and the top 8 seniors took all 4 of the state doubles berths. So, practically all of the class of 2016 started on JV and had a successful start to their careers there. Alli Schwarm did manage to impress the coaches with her massive forehand and snagged a varsity position. She went 7-0 during the season playing doubles.
Milwaukie's team was a mess that season and only managed to have one reputable player plus a few beginners. In the most odd line-up ever, Erica Lee offered to play up on varsity and make the trip to Milwaukie. Somehow, she ended up playing #1 singles for that match. So, she ended up 1-0 for the year with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Milwaukie's best player.
As I mentioned, the top 8 seniors all moved into doubles to qualify for state, leaving a hole in singles. The conversation after that went like this:
Coach Krauel: Who should we put in singles?
Coach Wilcox: I bet Alli might do okay
Coach K: That's not a bad idea, except she doesn't know how to play singles.
Coach W: She can run all day, keep it in play, then smack a winner when she gets a forehand.
Coach K: Why not.
Coaches: Alli - Do you want to play singles in the district tournament?
Alli: How do you play singles?
Coaches: Run all day, keep it in play, then smack a winner when you get a short forehand
Alli: I guess
District Tournament: Alli wins 6-2, 3-6, 10-8, then again 6-2, 6-2, then 6-2, 6-3 over the #3 seed to qualify for state.
Class of 2016 Varsity Record for 2013: 8-0. JV record - I don't know, but I do remember it was impressive/dominant.
The Summer of 2013:
The class of 2013 had 12 seniors, and they had kept Coach Krauel around long past his intended retirement, meaning the players headed to the off-season with the bulk of their team gone, no coach and no clue what to expect.
The few returning varsity players could compete near the top of the league, but at least 10 players needed to step up to the challenge. What did they do? They worked. And they worked. They had some coaching available since Todd was still around (but not that much), but for the most part they did it on their own. Small groups of players would meet at the courts and play for hours several days a week. They'd play with their close friends, other teammates, their parents, the boys team, even some parents of former players. They'd simply go play.
New Coach Roxanne Imbrie wasn't sure what to expect after seeing almost the entire 2013 team graduate. Her own daughter graduated with that class and she knew how dominant they had been. But by the time the season rolled around, she knew she had a group that could play. Passing up a lot of older players, the class of 2016 had eight players make varsity as sophomores. That is a lot of young players playing in the state's toughest 5A league, especially when the other league teams were packed with seniors.
How did it go? They couldn't quite continue the streak of league titles, but they were definitely in a fight for the championship. Narrow 4-5 losses to Wilsonville and splitting matches with Sandy earned them a 2nd place finish, way better than the competition expected. And nobody ever felt comfortable playing Sherwood because they could see what was brewing. The class of 2016 definitely did their share, earning an 82-28 record
When the district tournament came around, sophomore Alli Schwarm had figured out how to beat her rival from Sandy and qualified for state in singles a second time. I didn't expect topspin drop shots to be that answer since I'd never seen such a thing before (or since), but it worked.
Four older Sherwood players managed to qualify for state in doubles. The class of 2016 managed to get close to making it another clean sweep for Sherwood in doubles, but couldn't quite get there. Megan Howard paired with Anna Fechter for an unbelievable match against the #1 seeded team, while Erica Lee and Tiffani Williams gave the #3 seed a run for their money as well Both matches could have turned on a deuce point, but it wasn't our day.
All 8 sophomores had winning records for the year, with honors going to Meghan and Tiffani and their 11-1 dual-league records.
With only two graduates in 2014, 2015 sounds like it will be a cake-walk, right? Not remotely. The OSAA re-classified Sherwood as a 6A school for the 2015 season. For a 5A league, our old league was very good. Sandy, Wilsonville, Parkrose and St. Helens were pretty serious about tennis. But Sherwood didn't just move up to 6A, they moved into the Three Rivers League with Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, West Linn, Tualatin, St. Mary's, Tualatin, Canby and Newberg.
Most 6A teams have a few studs at the top but can be a little bit softer down low. We knew one thing was true. 3rd and 4th doubles were critical spots for us to win each match, so 5-6 players getting good wasn't going to cut it. It was about 12+ players getting good. So, what did they do? Back to the practice courts. Again, groups calling friends and teammates to go play.
The 12+ philosophy suddenly mattered a whole lot more when I got one of my least-favorite coaching texts. After all the work everyone had put in, the night before the season, Alli texted me, "I broke my wrist in a rec basketball game tonight. Rec BBall is LIFE!!!" A few texts later she informed me that it was her left wrist and she may still be able to play. But, the top singles spots are tough enough at full strength - doing it without your 2-handed backhand is absurd. Fortunately, all of the off-season work paid off as Erica had become ready to take on the challenge at the top spot.
Sidenote: If you are going to text a coach the night before the season, include whether it's your left or right wrist you broke to prevent a full-blown panic attack.
On we went into the season. We had a few nice wins over Tualatin, Canby and St. Mary's, and a very close loss to Lakeridge. Everyone knew Lake Oswego was the juggernaut - probably the best team in the state. A little ways into the L.O. match, I got a "compliment" from their coach. She asked me, "Who are these girls?" Coaches from Lake Oswego have highly ranked players walk into their programs every year, so they monitor the tournament scene to see which stud is going to show up next year. They know all the top players and where they play. "Who are these girls?" actually meant, "How are a bunch of girls I've never heard of this good?" The match didn't go our way that day, but I can say that the first 30 minutes of it was the best 30 minutes in Sherwood history.
We couldn't manage to beat L.O. or Lakeridge, but for the other 12 league matches, we were solid. Having a team with talent from top-to-bottom paid off. Not only could we compete at the top spots, our doubles teams went 44-4 in those matches securing at 3rd place finish in an incredibly tough league.
Qualifying for state in that league was brutally difficult. Alli and Erica teamed up for doubles to qualify easily and almost ended up league champions. The scored a huge upset over Anna in the semi-finals (4-6, 7-6, 6-3) and then lost the finals 2-6, 6-4, 6-7 to everyone's favorite Libby and her "Partner of the Year" Bridget. The match would have been forfeited by Libby for her 3rd observed racquet-throwing violation had her partner not seen the toss, sprinted after it and caught it so the line judge didn't hear/see it to crashing into the back curtain. That is MVP material right there.
Alli and Erica had a tough first round loss at state, but managed to win 3 in a row to win the consolation bracket.
Despite the much tougher league, the entire class of 2016 had winning records again, compiling an awesome 97-33 record.
2016: For all the drama of the previous years, 2016 was just a lot of winning. The league season was shortened to allow us to play in the Bend tournament again, which was awesome. The team went 3-1 in Bend with just a 4-4 (9 sets to 10) loss to Summit. For as good as L.O. was in 2015, their 2016 squad was nuts. The #43-ranked player in Canada moved there, and she was #5 on their team. So, that was out of reach, and our not-best day at West Linn left us 3rd in league again. 2nd would have been nice, but 3rd is respectable in a league with the state's best team and a bunch of other strong programs.
The class of 2016 went 114-49 for the year. Alli and Erica followed up on their success at state with a tough battle against the #2 seed, earning the team a tie for 6th in state.
At the end of the day, the 2016 squad went down in history as one of our best ever. The coaches have debated who would have won in a battle of the 2013 and 2016 teams, and it definitely would have been competitive. The 2016 team earns distinction though for being thrown into the fire repeatedly, only to come out stronger each time. For any current players reading this, take note. You can only get an edge in matches by having great top players. To win, you need a solid group from top-to-bottom.
All-in-All, the Class of 2016 won 72% of all their matches played, with most of them being in the toughest leagues in the state. No player won less than 10 varsity matches and every player graduated with a winning record. There aren't a lot of names called out for their stunning individual contributions, but all 11 can be called out for their contributions to teams that were probably top-10 in Oregon for years on end.
Thank you again to the players and families from the class of 2016. This has been a fun trip down memory lane. We're sorry that your last year of college didn't end the way you wanted, and we wish you the best in all your next adventures.
Please come back and pay us a visit. The 2020 squad was ready to challenge for the title of "best ever Sherwood team", and I can tell you right now that 2021, 2022, 2023 may have something to say about that as well.