By David Bashore
Herald sports editor
Hermiston Seniors Derek Harmon and Kenneth Gregory punched the first two of four state tournament tickets for Hermiston on the first day of the Intermountain Conference championships.
The doubles tandem, seeded third in the conference going into the tournament, breezed through to the semifinals of the conference championships, dropping just seven games in their three matches in Monday.
Each semifinalist in singles and doubles qualifies out of the IMC for next week's state championships.
Harmon and Gregory were the first Hermiston players to qualify, but they will not be heading to Portland alone.
Darren Ramcharan eased through his two matches and a first-round bye to qualify for the state tournament for a second consecutive year.
The senior will face fellow Bulldog Jacob Crowther in the semifinals this morning.
Ramcharan dropped just one game in his two matches, which may prove vital to his IMC championship aspirations.
Temperatures Monday soared into the mid-80s in the afternoon with no wind, and the searing conditions may again play a factor today.
While Ramcharan, the second singles seed, exerted minimal energy in his two matches, top seeded Stuart Dyer of Bend had to dig deep just to reach the semifinals.
After going perfect in his opening round game, Dyer received stiff and brave resistance from Hermiston's Brock Burns in the quarterfinals.
Burns took the first set 6-4, before Dyer took the second by the same score.
Four of the final set's five games went to Burns before Dyer reeled off five straight games to jescape into the semifinals.
Burns was one of three unsuccessful Bulldog attempts to crash the state party from the quarterfinals, along with the doubles tandems of Levi Smith and Nick Bell, and Wyatt Harris and Ian McMichael.