The Oak Harbor High School tennis team earned Whidbey Island bragging rights when it defeated previously unbeaten South Whidbey 4-3 Monday, April 22, in a nonleague match on the Wildcats' courts.
The win didn't come easy for Oak Harbor. The Falcons' three wins were the first three matches completed, so Oak Harbor needed to sweep the final four to take the team victory.
South Whidbey dominated the featured matches, winning the top two singles and the No. 1 doubles contests, but the Wildcats (3-8), a 3A school, used its superior depth to stop the 1A Falcons (9-1).
The Falcons' Newman sisters, two of the state's top 1A singles players, cruised to wins in the first and second singles. Senior Haley defeated Makenzie Perry 6-2, 6-0; and sophomore Carlie stopped Chelsea Atkinson 6-0, 6-0.
Oak Harbor countered by winning third and fourth singles. Faith Franssen topped Katrina Layton 6-2, 6-1; and Brittany Rigby defeated Sophie Nilsen 6-3, 6-0.
Oak Harbor's Chelsea Admire and Jamie Estrella fell 6-0, 6-1 to Tess Radisch and Amelia Weeks in first doubles, but the Wildcats grabbed second and third doubles.
Zena Husler and Alyssa Eden beat Isla Dubendorf and Brea Gaugher 7-6(2), 6-1; and Caterina Amsler and Hannah Gluth dropped Colleen Groce and Katherine Read 7-5, 6-1.
Oak Harbor's Dallas Breilein and Mollie Briddell also won an exhibition doubles match 8-4.
Oak Harbor coach Horace Mells knew going into the season it would be an uphill battle with only two returning varsity players and two seniors.
He said Stanwood (8-1, 11-1) is clearly the best team in the Wesco North, but the other four teams are evenly matched.
"We can compete against all three if we have all of our players," Mells said. "It seems like every match we are missing someone."
With such a young team, Mells said "the upside is good if we can keep everyone involved."
He added it is important that each girl works on her game in the offseason, but that can be tough with so many multi-sport athletes on the team.
Wins have been hard to come by, but Mells likes the growth his team. He noted that Perry worked her way up from the No. 8 singles player to the top spot, that Rigby has been "amazing" with only three losses and the doubles duo of Estrella and Admire have "progressed nicely."
"Actually, everyone has progressed," he said.
Mells said the goal now is for someone to place in the Wesco North tournament and earn a spot in the district tournament.
Advancing out of district to state will be difficult, Mells said, because the Wesco South has been so dominant. Three of the southern teams have only one loss, and the fourth-place team has a better record than the North's No. 2 team.
Oak Harbor hosts Everett (3-6, 4-8) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. The second-place Seagulls hold a half game edge over Oak Harbor although the Wildcats defeated Everett 4-3 earlier this season.