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No tennis players qualified for state, head coach Mike Clarke announces he won't be back for another season

For Mike Clarke, the moment was a tough one.

The Molalla High girls tennis team qualified no one for state during its district tournament, which concluded May 13, and on that note Clarke decided to call it a career.

After 32 years of coaching at Molalla, Clarke is stepping down. At the team's May 17 award event, his current team and past players expressed how they felt.

COURTESY PHOTO: MHS GIRL TENNIS - Molalla High School girls tennis players, past and present, honored head coach Mike Clarke during the team's banquet recently. Clarke announced that after 32 years of coaching, he will step away.

"Our awards night was bittersweet," Clarke said. "I'm going to miss working with these girls and watching them grow as a tennis player. We lose seven seniors — Rubie Burge, Crista Baurer, Kylie Smith, Lainie Mead, Chloe Norgren, McKenzie Clonkey and Ansley Nix — a wonderful group of girls who never got to have a home match this year."

With the tennis courts at Molalla High still not completed, the tennis team became a traveling act exclusively.

"It made it difficult always traveling, difficult for parents to watch their daughters play, players never had student body support at a match and not being able to really practice their game," Clarke said. "Our motto was 'How good could we have been?'"

The Indians finished the season with a 5-3 league record and finished third in the district.

"At our awards night, many of my former players came since it was my last time," Clarke said. "It was heartwarming to see so many of them there."


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