Sports

Fall Sports Preview: Oak Harbor tennis

"If Wildcat tennis was strictly a spring sport, says coach Horace Mells, perhaps the boy's team would have fared better last year. That way, there wouldn't be the lure of fall football to draw athletes off the court and onto the gridiron.Maybe Oak Harbor's tennis team wouldn't have finished tenth out of 11 teams in district competition last year.But if wishes were horses we'd all take a ride.Still, the third-year coach says there's reason for hope this year, even if only four seniors are returning to the team.Jason Garcia represents one of the reasons Mells is hopeful.The retuning senior was seeded fifth on the team last year, despite the fact that he didn't pick up a racket until his sophomore year. And this year, Garcia is even better.So is senior Justin Harris, who worked his way up from the junior varsity squad to the number four spot on the varsity team last year.Then there's the group of eager young players who turned out for the team this year.We've got four or five freshmen who are motivated and ready to go, Mells said. And I plan to get them more motivated and on track.And lest you think Mells' wishes for an all-spring tennis team are wistful, consider his record coaching the girls' tennis team - the one that plays in the spring. Remember them? Last year's league champs? Remember Stacie Pete, who was undefeated in league play two years in a row and broke all school records with 55 career wins?But that was then, and now Mells is working with a new boys team, busy motivating, teaching and sometimes introducing the sport to new crop of athletes.I have some players, he allows. And a team that's going to improve.And that sounds a lot more like a fact than a wish. "

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