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Wesco North schools left out in cold | Tennis
Oak Harbor, like most of the northern schools in Western Conference tennis, are on the outside looking in.
That is playing on outside courts looking in on the schools from the southern portion of the league who have access to indoor facilities.
The impact was evident in the Wildcats' latest match, a 7-0 loss to 3A South Shorecrest (9-3, 11-4) at home Monday, Oct. 8.
Only one of the 10 schools in the 3A and 4A Wesco North divisions has indoor courts in its community. That one school, Stanwood, leads the 3A North with a 14-1 record. Only one other North school has a winning season record, 4A Mount Vernon at 9-6.
In the two southern divisions, by contrast, eight of the 11 teams sport a winning record and seven are 10-4 or better.
In 3A crossover matches not involving Stanwood, the South won 17 of 21.
All of the Wesco schools play their matches on outdoor courts. Those with indoor facilities in their area, however, have the advantage of working out year-round, Oak Harbor coach Horace Mells said.
Mells said his players have to develop their games while the high-school season progresses while indoor players come into the season primed from off-season play.
The indoor facilities also run year-round youth programs that feed the high school teams. Some of the programs begin with children as young as 6, Mells said.
Mells offers summer camps for Oak Harbor youngsters, but during two recent summers the OHHS courts were closed for renovation. His numbers were down this past summer because "some lost interest" during the two-year break.
One positive, Mells said, is the new OHHS courts are the best high-school facilities in Wesco.
With the Shorecrest loss, Oak Harbor is 4-9 in 3A play, 4-11 overall.
Mells said coming into the season he hoped to win more matches against the Wesco North schools, but the "other teams are better than expected."
Mells added, "We are getting better. All of the players are a lot better than last year."
As examples he pointed to David Kusnick, a doubles player last year who has played .500 tennis in singles action this year, and Casiano Atienza, who worked his way up to No. 5 on the squad.
Oak Harbor closes out the regular season at Marysville-Pilchuck (0-12, 1-14) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The divisional tournament begins Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Stanwood. The top four from the tournament qualify for the 3A district tournament.
The best shot for a Wildcat player to move on is No. 1 singles player Will Southard, Mells said. "He is number three or four right now."
Mells said he is considering pairing up singles players Kusnick and Harrison Miller as a doubles team for the tournament because the two played as a doubles unit last fall.
Singles: 1, Southard lost 1-6, 0-6; 2, Kusnick lost 3-6, 2-6; 3, Carter Saar lost 0-6, 1-6; 4, Miller lost 2-6, 3-6.
Doubles: 1, Tom Dale/Jacob Nelson lost 2-6, 0-6; 2, Jozef Mendoza/Sean Kelley lost 0-6, 0-6; 3, Atienza/Antonio Unpingco lost 1-6, 1-6.