OHHS edged in tennis 4-3

Ben Cardinal serves for Oak Harbor against Cascade Wednesday.  - Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times
Ben Cardinal serves for Oak Harbor against Cascade Wednesday.
— image credit: Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times

Hoping to break a losing streak, the Oak Harbor High School boys' tennis team fell just short at home Wednesday as the Cascade Bruins nipped the Wildcats 4-3.

The loss was Oak Harbor's sixth after a season-opening 4-3 win over Arlington. Cascade raised its record to 3-5.

The Wildcats dominated the top end of the match, capturing wins in first and second singles as well as No. 1 doubles. The Bruins' depth proved to be the difference in the match.

In No. 1 singles, Oak Harbor's Derek Thomas fell behind 0-4 in the first game before roaring back to take the set 6-4. He also won the second set 6-4 to take the match from Garrett Johnson.

In No. 2 singles, Josh Evans put away Cascade's Johnny Mills 6-4, 6-2.

After losing the first set 1-6, Cascade's Juan Ceja came back to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-4, and win the No. 3 singles match over Oak Harbor's Ben Cardinal.

Oak Harbor's first doubles duo of David DeGuzman and Geoff Worley beat Sean Dau and Kusselle Yap in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.

The Wildcats' Chase Edwards and Brandon Vagt were edged in second doubles in the day's closest match. Cascade's Eddie Bayya and Mike Gleave slipped by the OHHS pair 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

In third doubles, the Bruins' Dararod Nach and Kevin Sun defeated Kevin Gagen and Chris Holbrook 6-4, 6-2.

It's been the proverbial building year for coach Horace Mells' Oak Harbor squad. His team features just three seniors, and only three players returned this fall with varsity experience. Mells pointed out that he has more players on the team this year, 31, than last year, which is a step in the right direction to build a program.

Oak Harbor is also hurt by the lack of an indoor facility. Stanwood and the Everett area schools historically dominate the top half of the Wesco standings because their players have access to indoor courts. The other Wesco schools occasionally make a run at the Wesco title, but not with the consistency of those with the ability to play year-round.

Cold, windy, and wet weather is not conducive to improving one's game during the winter months.

Mells said that not having an indoor facility is not an excuse. He said, "The players still need to have individual motivation" to improve regardless of facilities.

Mells pointed out the work of his No. 3 singles player Cardinal as an example. Cardinal, a junior, never played organized tennis until this year, but his willing to constantly work on his game has enabled him to compete at the varsity level.

Vagt is another example of one whose hard work has elevated his game, according to Mells.

While Oak Harbor won't have indoor courts anytime soon, it will have new facilities next fall. Part of the remodeling of Oak Harbor High School includes the building of new tennis courts. Construction of the courts will begin at the end of the girls' high-school season in May and should be completed by the time the next boys' season rolls around in late August.

Currently OHHS has only six courts, so during seven-match high-school competitions, one team has to wait until one of the courts opens up to play.

Also, the side fences on the two outside courts are closer than regulation.

The new construction calls for eight courts. There will be four two-court areas with each pair separated by its own fencing.

The Wildcat tennis team faced Snohomish yesterday, but results were not available at press time.

Monday the 'Cats host Monroe at 3:45.

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