Nathaniel Thompson, who played No. 1 singles for Oak Harbor in 2017, returns to lead the Wildcats this season. (Photo by John Fisken)

Nathaniel Thompson, who played No. 1 singles for Oak Harbor in 2017, returns to lead the Wildcats this season. (Photo by John Fisken)

Prep preview / Oak Harbor tennis

The Oak Harbor High School tennis team will not only welcome a new coach in 2018, it will feature a number of new faces.

Coach Tino Gutierrez steps in for Horace Mells, who retired last year after leading the Wildcats for 21 years.

“I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I know that coach Mells is only a phone call away,” Gutierrez said. “I am excited for this season to start and I have the utmost confidence in my team this year.”

Gutierrez will be joined by only four lettermen: senior Nathaniel Thompson, juniors Ridgely Briddell and Nick Krantz and sophomore Sam Peek.

Key newcomers, according to Gutierrez, are senior Nathan Merrill, juniors Micah Franklin and Ethan Snell, sophomore Elsian Atienza and freshman Ezra Franklin.

The team’s strength will be its singles play, thanks to the return of Thompson and Krantz, who played first and third singles for the Wildcats last fall.

Gutierrez is in the process of “matching the right players together in order to play doubles.”

The goal for the season, Gutierrez said, is to “play each school tough.”

“No matter what, the season is a success if each player improves his play,” he added.

The Wildcats went 4-12 in 2017, placing fifth in the Wesco North with a 3-9 mark.

Oak Harbor gets started this fall with a trip to Marysville Getchell (0-16 last year) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6.

That match is followed by the first home contest at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, with Meadowdale (4-11).

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