The Duncan Banner
In the world of sports, sometimes there really is victory in defeat.
After the East Central University tennis program was cut in 1978, now Duncan Tennis coach Phil Barnes was a junior in college looking for a place to apply his talents.
Through one of his friends, he found that location in Chickasha at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
“I needed somewhere to play tennis and one of my friends told me about USAO,” Barnes said. “They were able to help get me a tryout with the tennis team. Somehow I managed to get a full scholarship out of it, but I personally didn’t think I performed that well,” Barnes said jokingly.
Now, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of athletics at USAO, Barnes is going to be honored along with eight other former athletes on Nov. 1-3.
“Totally unexpected, and took me by surprise,” Barnes said was his reaction upon receiving the news of the award. “Of all the people that have played sports there, and they are wanting to honor me? I’m very shocked for sure. But, this is a program award because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the talented athletes I’ve gotten to coach at Duncan.”
Barnes added making the choice to go to USAO was one of the best he’s ever made in life.
“I was able to learn discipline and they gave me an opportunity,” he said. “Anytime your a junior or a senior then you aren’t focused on how many years you have left playing. You have to start thinking about a career. I knew I wanted to coach both basketball and tennis, and USAO gave me the direction I needed.”
Ironically enough, it was two Duncan kids who initially helped bring Barnes to Stephens County.
“Davis Raizen and Parker Bowles would come to Chickasha, because I was giving tennis lessons there,” Barnes said. “Their moms asked if I could come to Duncan and teach the boys here, and from there things just happened.”
Barnes added that when he first started coaching the DHS tennis team, some of the kids had already known him through having lessons with him.
“We had four really good freshmen when we started out,” he said. “It took a little bit of time to adjust to being a real coach for them as opposed to teaching them lessons. But eventually things ran smoothly.”
Since taking over the DHS tennis program in 1985-86, Barnes has tasted success on many levels.
On top of the six state team championships, Barnes has also gotten to coach 28 individual state champions, along with 30 All-State athletes.
“Winning the first state title was more about a sense of relief in my mind,” Barnes said. “I knew we were good enough to win, it was just making it happen that worried me. Our second state title was a little more sweet, because there were about four other teams that could have won it besides us.”
He’s also been named a NHSACA Regional Coach of the year in 2008, in addition to being named as a member of the Duncan Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2010. Barnes has also won State Coach of the Year twice along with being a nine time winner as a Regional Coach of the Year.
Duncan’s boys tennis team has been state runners-up the past three years, with the girls team claiming runners-up honors the past five years.
At the end of the day though, it’s really all about the kids when it comes to coaching for Barnes.
“This has been an absolute blast for me,” Barnes said about coaching. “I’m probably the biggest kid of them all out here. But I’ve been blessed to coach some great kids, and they know when to be serious as well. You do coaching because of the kids and I’ve loved every second of it.”