Oregon's Rain Clouds Have Silver Lining for Leff-Hallstein
Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard
SPRINGFIELD - The Swedish kid with a passion for tennis zeroed in on where in the United States he wanted to live during his foreign exchange program.
"I chose the West coast because I thought it would be sunny all year," David Leff-Hallstein said.
It didn't work out that way because Leff-Hallstein ended up at Thurston High School, but his arrival has been a boon for the Colts' boys tennis team.
"I just burst out laughing, it was almost comical what good fortune Thurston had to get David," Thurston coach Bill White said. "It was almost something to joke about, but it actually happened. For many years Thurston has been in the lower half of the league, so I thought it was good for us, Thurston deserved good luck."
Leff-Hallstein has lost only one match all year and is seeded second entering this weekend's Midwestern League district tennis tournament. The Colts have never had a district singles champion according to White, but Leff-Hallstein is a contender for the title.
Leff-Hallstein started playing tennis in his hometown of Karlstad, Sweden, when he was 8 years old and was competing in tournaments by the time he was 12. He learned from some of his country's Davis Cup coaches and has met some of Sweden's most famous players.
He defeated Bjorn Borg's son and met the five-time Wimbledon champion after the match. Leff-Hallstein met Stefan Edberg at a tennis camp.
With a desire to improve his English, Leff-Hallstein entered the exchange program and arrived in Springfield on Aug. 7. The following day he started playing tennis at the Eugene Swim and Tennis Club, where he met and competed against players from Sheldon, which is always a Midwestern League power.
The 6 foot, 2 inch 17 year old has more than held his own against league opponents and defeated Noah Strycker, a district semifinalist from last year, 6-2, 6-3, on Thursday.
His lone loss turned out to be the league's match of the year, as Churchill's Zach Johnston beat Leff-Hallstein 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Leff-Hallstein led 6-5 in the third set and 4-1 in the tiebreaker before falling to Johnston, the No. 1 seed at district who was a doubles champion last year.
"The American players have a little different style, they are more aggressive while I am more of a baseline player," Leff-Hallstein said. …