Athlete of the Week: Damion Mehrer


Ashley Hawkins

“Winning my first match at districts was a big achievement for me,” Mehrer said.

Sofia Gonzalez, Assistant Editor

From St. John’s neighborhood in northeast Portland to La Salle, tennis has always been a part of junior doubles player Damion Mehrer’s life.

Mehrer is the oldest out of seven brothers in his family and has paved the way for all but the youngest to follow his tennis endeavors. 

Although he started playing tennis in second grade, he did not immediately join La Salle’s tennis team his freshman year — instead he started playing his sophomore year. “I was kind of nervous because this was my first high school sport,” he said. “I was kind of nervous if I was going to be good against everybody else here.”

Tennis was not a major factor in Mehrer’s high school decision. After attending a small middle school in which classes were separated by gender, he was ready for a change and believed La Salle could offer that.    

However, tennis has become one of his favorite things at La Salle and he looks forward to it every year. “It’s very exciting,” he said.

Part of the reason he looks forward to tennis every year is due to the head coach, Mike Stone. “He’s a really good leader and role model to all of us,” Mehrer said. “He helps us on bettering ourselves and gives us some really good tips on how we can be better as a team.”

He also enjoys playing with his teammates and finds inspiration from them — especially junior Aidan McBride. “He pushes me to do better and to not give up when we go up against other top schools,” he said. “He always goes into it with a positive attitude and lifts up the team.”

Being a student athlete comes with some challenges, but Mehrer said most teachers are very understanding and allow opportunities to make up missed work and grant extensions due to practices and matches. 

In general, balancing school and tennis isn’t that hard for Mehrer but “there are days when we have big assignments and I’ll talk to the coach and ask if I could go home early or if there’s some way I can do practice without being there that day,” he said.

Mehrer not only plays tennis for La Salle, he also plays club tennis for Portland Tennis and Education (PTE). He has been playing there since second grade when he joined an after school program that was run by it. 

For Mehrer, it isn’t a huge struggle to balance club tennis and high school because “I don’t really go to my club practice unless it’s raining,” he said. “My coach knows that we practice at school so sometimes practice just gets canceled because everybody’s already having practice.”

He plays club tennis year-round and has noticed key differences between high school tennis and club — one being the pressure level. 

Although high school tennis can put teammates against each other in certain circumstances, specifically in districts and state, it is a team sport. The individual singles and doubles wins are totaled up to determine the winner of the overall match vs. the opposing school. As for club tennis, Mehrer has noted a different kind of competition environment. “It’s more of like you’re competing against yourself,” Mehrer said. “At school, we compete for the whole team and play matches to win for the team.”

This team aspect is something he really appreciates, as one of his favorite memories is the overnight Eugene trip the boys team took last year for the Bigfoot Invitational. “We got to have a lot of team bonding on that trip,” he said.

Although Mehrer doesn’t usually watch tennis, his favorite player is Roger Federer due to his immense talent.

Athletics have always been an important part of Meher’s life as he played both soccer and basketball as a child, but none of those sports really clicked for him like tennis did.

When he’s not playing tennis, one of his favorite activities is bike riding. “When I have time I’ll go on 30 minute to an hour bike rides by myself and just listen to music and be out in nature,” Mehrer said.

Mehrer does not plan on playing at a collegiate level, but he plans on continuing playing tennis later on in life for fun because athletics is something he greatly enjoys.