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Legendary tennis coach Phil Barnes passed away

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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – The tennis community mourns the loss of a Duncan coaching legend, Phil Barnes, who passed away Tuesday.

Phil Barnes coached tennis for Duncan High for thirty-six seasons, leading them to seven state championships.

Bobby Cook, the athletic director of Duncan Public Schools, said Barnes had a big influence on the tennis court and an even bigger influence on the community.

When you think of tennis and Duncan, I mean, that’s synonymous with Coach Barnes. And I don’t think you know. When you mention tennis here, Coach Barnes is the next breath spoken, Cook said.

Barnes’ name and achievements are in five halls of fame. His last introduction was in July, with the Oklahoma Coaches Association.

His daughter, Melanie Cox, said her father created an amazing legacy, especially for Duncan’s students.

The champion of tennis, and especially of country tennis, because was in Duncan, not one of the big cities. He sure was, Cox said.

Barnes coached fifty-nine all-state players, one of whom was Darren Cobble, the current head coach of the Duncan tennis teams.

Cobble said he is grateful to have had him as a coach and mentor.

They are pretty big shoes to fill, you can never fill them because he has been so successful and has had a great program over the years. You just don’t want to mess it up, you just want to get on with what he did. He left a great foundation. His legacy will never go away, it’s ingrained in me, and it’s ingrained in all of his former players, Cobble said.

Melanie said she loved having her dad as her coach and that he put her on the field as soon as she could walk.

We were here every summer, every morning, even elementary school, before I cared what I looked like when I went to school. We were supposed to come here in the morning to play before school so that we would get up here at 6:30 am, 7 am, Cox said.

Melanie said her father had suffered a massive stroke in May.

He had to undergo brain surgery and is just recovering in the hospital. He was in the hospital for 74 days before dying, Cox said.

Melanie said she is so grateful for all the love and support from the Duncan community during this difficult time.

We always call him Mr. Duncan because you can’t go anywhere without him talking to someone for about 30 minutes. But I would never have called that word legend to his face. He liked to joke about that, so yes, said Cox.

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