Melissa Oglesby is all packed and ready to take off for a long-awaited deer hunting trip with her father this weekend. There's just one stop they have to make in Reno before they head east to Elko County, though.
You see, the 15-year-old Douglas High School sophomore has to play some tennis first -- at the NIAA/U.S. Bank State Championships. Oglesby is entered in the state girls singles tournament, where she plays today at 2 p.m. at the Plumas Tennis Complex. She opens against Las Vegas High freshman Raquel Martinez, the Sunrise Region champion.
Oglesby advanced by virtue of her runner-up finish at the Northern 4A Regional Tournament. This is a considerable jump from last year, when Oglesby played No. 1 doubles for the Tigers, but she worked on her game during the offseason.
"She's really dedicated to the sport," Gosselin said. "I don't think she ever stopped playing tennis. She was out there in the winter and spring and she played tournaments over the summer. If she keeps working like that, from now on, she's going to have an opportunity to go to state every year."
Interestingly enough state tournament trips are getting to be a habit for the Oglesby family because Melissa's older sister, Amber, was a three-time state qualifier, highlighted by her second-place finish as a senior at the 2000 Northern 4A Regionals. Now, here's another interesting twist. Amber Oglesby lost in the girls singles finals at the 2000 Northern 4A Regional Tournament to Bishop Manogue's Lara Bugarello (a state champion in 1997 and 2000). Last Saturday, Melissa Oglesby lost 6-0, 6-0 in the finals to Galena's Julie Burgarello, Lara's younger sister.
"As long as there's an Oglesby, there's going to be a Burgarello," Gosselin said with a chuckle. "Julie is nationally ranked in 16s (16-year-old age group), so she's obviously a very good player."
Oglesby, who came into last weekend's Northern 4A tournament as the Sierra League's No. 3 seed, scored a big win in the quarterfinals over No. 2 High Desert League seed Rachel Forbes of Galena, 6-4, 6-4.
"It was kind of a surprise to beat Rachel, so I was really happy with that," Oglesby said. "I'd never beaten her. I've come close to beating her in tournaments, then she beat me when we played in the team zone. That day I was playing way better than I expected."
Oglesby followed that with a come-from-behind victory against Kristian Payton of Sparks in the semifinals, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Gosselin was impressed with the comeback effort.
"I thought she elevated her game to a new level in that match," Douglas coach Dee Gosselin said. "She was down (one set), but she fought and focused on what she had to do and just got into a zone. It was fun to see."
The competition only figures to get stronger in the state tournament. Las Vegas has traditionally dominated the girls play, having won all but five singles titles since 1975. However, the North has won four of the last six, including titles won by Lara Burgarello in 1997 and 2000.
When Oglesby finishes with the state play, she will be ready to take off on that hunting trip with her father, Jim Oglesby. The trip was put on hold when Melissa qualified for the state tournament, according to her mother, Jody.
"She's been bugging her dad to take her hunting for years and he's always had to tell her, 'You're too young," Jody Oglesby said. "So she took the hunter safety class in the spring and got her tag. They've been planning on this trip since the spring and they were going to leave after school on Thursday, but then she qualified for the state tournament."
Melissa wouldn't miss the tournament for anything. After all, it's been a pretty successful season.
"I've really been impressed with my season," she said. "I knew I was going to do really good. because I played tournaments over the summer, went to lessons and tried hitting with people. It has (paid off) and so have the tournaments."
Also playing in the tournament in doubles for Galena are Taylor Ford and Daryl Gasca for the boys and Laura Deitch and Susanna Atherton for the girls.