High school tennis: Turkey's top junior player dominates Oklahoma state tourney
For Stillwater tennis, getting Mert Arabaci was kind of like Oklahoma football getting Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray.
Arabaci is the top junior tennis player in Turkey. His family moved to Stillwater last year so his father could conduct research at Oklahoma State University.
Arabaci joined the tennis team at Stillwater and breezed through the competition this past season, finishing 35-0 and winning the Class 6A state championship at No. 1 singles. He did not lose a single set all season.
“We are really lucky to have him,” said Joshua Spiers, assistant tennis coach at Stillwater High School.
Arabaci defeated Brogan McLaughlin of Edmond North 6-2, 6-2, in the championship match Saturday night. He was mobbed by his Stillwater classmates on the court after match point.
Spiers said Arabaci doesn’t have any weakness in his game.
“He is pretty crafty,” Spiers said. “He is able to mix it up, mix in some drop shots. He is good at the net. He can do just about anything. That allows him some options. That throws players off. It keeps them guessing. He is a great all-around player.”
Asked what the Oklahoma state high school championship means to him, Arabaci said: ”Turkish people doesn’t know American system so it doesn’t matter for the Turkish people, but my family will know what it means. It’s really good for me.”
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Arabaci, a 16-year-old junior, said playing tennis in Oklahoma and attending Stillwater High School has been a great experience, but his family will probably return to Turkey without him getting the opportunity to defend his Oklahoma state championship as a senior.
Arabaci hopes to stay in the United States and go to a tennis academy during his senior year. He wants to attend college in the United States to play tennis and eventually turn pro.
Spiers said Arabaci reminds him of his former high school teammate at Ponca City, Daniel Langston, who won two Class 6A No. 1 singles titles. Langston is now playing at Valparaiso.
“I would pay to watch those two play (against each other),” Spiers said.