HERMISTON - The Hermiston boys tennis team picked up right where it left off last year against the Intermountain Conference.

Thursday's match didn't count toward the conference standings, but the Bulldogs, a perfect 7-0 in conference play last year, won their first match against an IMC opponent with an 8-0 sweep of Pendleton (3-1).

Hermiston (1-1) won every set of the match.

"I knew it was going to be a tough day here," Pendleton coach Dick Beamer said. "We're still young and inexperienced."

The Hermiston victory came despite strong winds, which blew across the court. The wind was so strong it blew over a 55-gallon metal drum full of garbage and rolled it toward the courts, and it easily affected tennis balls hit more than a few feet in the air.

"I was pleased with the way my players handled the wind," Hermiston coach John Lauck said. "I think the team was really focused and played its best despite horrid weather conditions."

Hermiston's Ryan Bell took the win at No. 1 singles, beating Pendleton foreign exchange student Carlos Romo 6-0, 6-4.

Bell swept the first set, but Romo came back in the second to win four games, breaking Bell's serve in the eighth game of the second set.

"I'm not sure what changed," said Bell, who finished sixth in IMC singles last year. "If I had noticed it, I would have changed it."

Romo said one reason he got back into the match was because he finally figured out in the wind.

Romo hails from Ibarra, Ecuador, a city of 140,000 people in the mountains near the Colombian border. He has never played tennis in conditions such as Thursday's.

"No, not that windy," Romo said when asked if he's played in similar weather. "Usually, my city is not windy at all."

The Bulldog team of David Ramcharan and Juan Rodriguez won No. 1 doubles 6-2, 6-0 over Aaron Beamer and Kyle Brown.

"My No. 1 doubles team came out ready to play and set the tone for the entire team," Lauck said. "They played a focused and determined match."

Ramcharan was just happy to play consistently despite the massive wind gusts.

"We played pretty well under the conditions," Ramcharan said. "On a day like this, it's a streaky kind of atmosphere."

Hermiston's Brant Lloyd defeated Shann West 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2 singles, in what was the closest match of the day. West and Romo were the only Buckaroos to get at least four wins in a set.

Taylor Smith defeated Pendleton's Carl Uhlman 6-2, 6-0, and Hermiston's Jacob Crowther won 6-0, 6-3 over Travis Ward.

The Bulldogs' Paul Carollo and Darren Ramcharan beat Joseph Perilli and Clark O'Neil 6-0, 6-2 in No. 2 doubles, Kenneth Gregory and Derek Harmon defeated Mike Abney and Nathan Smith of Pendleton 6-1, 6-1 in No. 3 doubles, and Hermiston's No. 4 doubles team of Nick Bell and Levi Smith beat Zach Blanc and Zach DeBoer 6-0, 6-1.

Ramcharan believes his Bulldogs can defend the district championship they won last season again this year.

"The team's going to do pretty well this year," Ramcharan said. "We're young on the bottom end of the bracket, but I think we're going to scare a lot of people in the IMC."

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