Piper Rylander of River and Emma Tuttle of Prairie become tennis team leaders

Tuttle was listed as Prairie’s best player, she would take a leadership role.

“I spoke with my coach about being a captain because I never thought I would be able to do it,” she said. “I think I’m doing my best to get into this leadership position.

“I just want to be a model and I’m working on it.”

Rylander’s season is almost over as League 2A Greater St. Helens comes to a close this week. Tuttle’s season has only just started with the launch of the GSHL 4A / 3A last week.

Both managed to play a bit during the extended rest time and the results are showing.

Rylander was undefeated at No.1 in singles last week and even earned a comeback straight set victory at Washougal.

“I never stopped training,” said Rylander. “I played most of the year.”

Tuttle hasn’t lost in the few games she’s played, but her training has been a start-and-stop process with her tennis club closing and reopening based on COVID-19 restrictions.

“I didn’t play for about a month, which was weird because I hadn’t done that in a while,” Tuttle said.

She was able to go out and play with friends, eventually hitting with a trainer, and recently started working with a personal trainer.

Rylander said she learned a lot playing behind former Columbia River player and 2A State Champion Faith Grisham.

“I’m a more consistent player, mentally and physically,” she said of her growth over the years. “Faith helped a lot.”

Tuttle also worked on his mental game after focusing so much on technique.

“I can be really frustrated and disappointed in myself when I don’t do what I know I can do,” she said. “So I focus on not getting frustrated and just having fun.”

The fun can just continue in college for both players. Tuttle plans to play tennis at Linfield in McMinnville, Oregon, and Rylander at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Both schools are in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.

“I know! It’s so funny,” Tuttle said. “We’re going to be adversaries. I’m excited.”

Rylander said it was the competitions with Tuttle that pushed her.

“She’s always been a little better than me, and it’s always nice to have this competition,” said Rylander. “I try to be at his level. And that’s why I’m going to play college tennis.

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