Donnell on top of his game

What a difference a year can make.

Not only has Oak Harbor senior Scott Donnell filled the role of number one singles player on his team, but he has solidified himself as one of the two best players in the WesCo North.

“He was a good player last year, but he’s really strong this year,” head coach Horace Mells said.

Donnell, who was the number two singles player in 2002, moved into the number one spot this year after the graduation of Dan Hinkley. Through his first 10 matches, the adjustment from number two to one appears to have come quite easily, as he is 9-1 and has won his last eight matches.

“One of the big improvements this year is his serve,” Mells said.

Donnell moved his fastest serve of close to 90 mph last year up to 106 mph this year.

“That’s pretty fast for high school,” Mells said. “Once he gets it in it’s hard for players to return.”

According to Donnell a growth spurt was significant toward his improved serve. Last year he stood at 5-feet-9-inches, but now at 6-feet-2-inches he is able to approach his serve with more power.

“I can get up to the ball and hit over the top,” he said.

Having longer arms also has helped his play at the net.

“His reach is longer and once he gets up to the net he’s hard to get around,” Mells said.

Donnell has virtually dominated his WesCo North opponents in 2003, picking up all of his wins in two sets. His only three-set match came Sept. 10 against Zack Gordon of Snohomish, who also handed Donnell his only defeat. Gordon is the only player so far to score more than two points in a single set against him.

“He’s a really good player,” Donnell said of Gordon.

The state tournament is the ultimate goal for Donnell, but in order to accomplish that feat he will need to be prepared for some tough competition in districts.

“This is when the competition gets really stiff,” Mells said.

The top four players from the WesCo North advance to districts and the top two from districts move on to the state tournament.

“That’s my goal right now,” Donnell said. “I think I can do it, especially if I play the way I did against Snohomish.”

Snohomish 6, Oak Harbor 1

Facing the number one team in the league was a tough task for the Wildcats Wednesday afternoon, as they fell 6-1.

Donnell picked up the only Wildcat win against Snohomish, while avenging his only loss of the season in a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Gordon.

“These are the best two players in the league right now,” Mells said.

After falling behind 3-1 to Gordon in the first set, Donnell’s confidence began to build. He went on to outscore his opponent 5-1, eventually taking the set on a nice cross-court backhand. Behind his powerful serve, Donnell kept Gordon off balance in the second set almost completely shutting him out on his way to the win.

“I had a crazy adrenaline rush,” Donnell said. “I was probably serving at 115 (mph).”

No other Oak Harbor players picked up wins on Wednesday, but that’s not to say the effort wasn’t there. The number-three doubles team of sophomore Matt Davidson and junior Kyle Merriman fell just shy of taking their first set in a 7-6(5) loss to Adam McPeak and Kellen Reimers. They eventually lost the match in a 6-2 defeat in the second set.

Oak Harbor wasn’t helped by the absence of players do to eligibility issues, something that’s plagued them all season.

“We’ve had some problems with eligibility this year,” Mells said. “That’s only hurt us.”

Now with a 4-6 record, Mells has high aspirations for his team over their remaining six matches. After finishing 8-8 the last two seasons, he wants them to experience a winning season.

“We’re going to try and have a better record than that,” he said.

Oak Harbor began that quest yesterday at Arlington and will have their next match at 3:45 p.m., Monday, Oct. 6 against Marysville at OHHS.

Singles—Donnell (OH) def. Gordon, 6-4,6-1; Stocker (S) def. Deasy-Larson, 6-0,6-0; Zhang (S) def. Bezold 6-4, 6-1; Meriski (S) def. Macindoe 6-1, 6-0. Doubles—Helms-Perron (S) def. McClure-Gailo 6-3, 6-2; Lacy-Stevens (S) def. Evans-Dalire 6-2, 6-4; McPeak-Reimers (S) def. Davidson-Merriman 7-6(5), 6-2.

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