This week, Ty Gentry is in Ojai, California, gearing up to make his first Pac-12 men’s tennis tournament appearance with the Oregon Ducks.
Last year at this time, Gentry, one of the most decorated tennis players in Tumwater High School history, was gearing up for another run — which ended with a third consecutive Class 2A state singles title. Gentry won his first at Capital in 2014 and his next two at Tumwater from 2015-16.
The postseason seems to favor Gentry, and he said he’s ready to begin another one.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “I’ve only heard great things about this tournament. The men play there, the women play there.
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“It’s a huge event. There are tons of people who come out to watch and support.”
No. 21 Oregon (18-5) begins its run at a Pac-12 tournament title at noon Thursday at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, after clinching a first-round bye.
The fourth-seeded Ducks will meet either No. 17 Stanford — which they upset last week in Eugene — or Arizona in the quarterfinals.
Gentry, a freshman, enters the tournament on the heels of satisfying fall and spring seasons.
“I’m starting to feel pretty confident out on the court, with all of the coaching and the guys I’m playing with on the team,” he said.
Gentry has compiled an 11-9 record, primarily playing in the No. 6 spot in the lineup.
He won his first collegiate match in October over Pacific’s Ross Watson, 6-4, 6-4, at the UCSB Classic.
As he was adjusting to the college lifestyle and a new tennis program, Gentry said that first win was the biggest of his young career.
“I had lost the first two matches I played (in that tournament) — both really close matches, and I played well,” Gentry said.
“I finally got my first win. I was at the point where I had multiple match points, and couldn’t win the match. I just had to get that one win under my belt. That was big.”
Gentry’s first Pac-12 win could come into play again this week if the Ducks win their quarterfinal match.
Earlier this month, he edged UCLA’s Maxime Cressy, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, for his first conference win, but the Ducks narrowly lost in Los Angeles.
Oregon could meet the fifth-ranked Bruins in the semifinals on Friday.
“We fought down to the wire, and I won my match,” Gentry said.
He says that progression has been good for him. Gentry has seen glimpses of the unwavering success he had in high school at Oregon’s practices, but is still looking to improve.
“I just have to find it consistently, and find it in matches,” Gentry said. “That’s one thing I’m really focused on right now.”
Gentry said his teammate Jayson Amos, Oregon’s only senior, has become a mentor to him.
The two have been paired as roommates on road trips this spring, and have been doubles partners in six matches — four of them at the No. 1 position — posting a 4-2 record.
“He’s been there, done that,” Gentry said. “When he was a freshman, he was exactly like me. He had talent, and was trying to harness it, and put it on the tennis court successfully.
“It’s nice to have someone to look up to.”
Entering this postseason and starting to plan his summer schedule, Gentry — who was a top-50 prospect nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network out of high school — sees his career taking shape.
“I’m kind of finding out who I am on the tennis court and who I will be in the future,” he said.