Ranger racket boys to take
on The Ojai
by Misty Volaski
Nordhoff's boys' tennis team is full of fresh new faces. Some
of those faces, like Tyson Barker, Andrew Nelson and Rhett Walker,
are beginning to stand out.
And Ojai is taking notice.
Top doubles team Barker and Walker, and top singles player Andrew
Nelson, all of whom are buddies, are planning to play in the
102nd Ojai Tennis Tournament. Each of the three enthused that
they were very honored to play in "The Ojai."
"I'm really excited to play," said Walker. "A
lot of really good players have played in it."
Nelson, like the others, is psyched to play in The Ojai. Though
he knows he probably won't win, he looks at it as a good chance
to learn a thing or two. "I'm not expecting to do really
well. But it's a good experience."
Nelson added that he never really goes into a match knowing he's
going to lose or win. "You can't go out there expecting
to lose. But you also can't let winning take you over."
Nelson, who spent his seventh grade year home schooling on a
boat in Mexico, was originally a hockey player. He was looking
for a less "hard-core" sport, and tried several before
settling on tennis. The transition from hockey to tennis proved
awkward for Nelson. "I kept holding my racket like a hockey
stick," Nelson said.
Barker, a senior, is this year's team captain. The title of captain
is one Barker is really proud of, especially since he's only
been a member of the team for two years. The Ojai native plans
to go to college.
"I used to take lessons when I was little. But I would get
mad and throw my racket!" Barker laughed.
Malibu, one of the "easier" schools to play, is Barker's
favorite opponent. "They're really laid-back and it's fun
to play them," he said.
You'd never guess that "laid back" is hardly Barker's
style. He's a no-volley sort of guy.
Of his style, Ventura-born Walker said, "Just get to the
point, get it over with. Hit it hard. It's not always smart,
but it's just so fun to hit the ball really hard."
The oldest member of the bunch, Walker has also been playing
the longest. Parents Craig and Debi introduced their son to the
sport, and he's been playing ever since.
Ojai native Walker, a recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award,
looks forward to the end of April every year, when The Ojai takes
place. "Ojai is a hotbed for tennis action," he said.
Along with doubles partner Barker, Walker estimated that he
usually wins at least two of his three matches.
If he continues to do well, Walker plans to go on to college,
possibly UCSB, and play there.
But whatever happens, "It will be fun," said Walker.
"Yeah," Barker added, "tennis is radical."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to sports
Back to the news