Scott DeLorme can't pinpoint a weakness in Hunter Oothoudt's game.
The Minot High School boy's tennis coach is hoping no else in the state can either.
Oothoudt, one of six seniors in the team's top eight, is the singles favorite in the West Region this fall and a contender for the first MHS state title since his brother, Josh, won in 2008.
Tim Chapman/MDN • Minot High School senior Hunter Oothoudt lunges through a return in Tuesday’s practice at Hammond Park.
"He's just so skilled," DeLorme said. "Everything he does, he's just a natural on the tennis court. He's got good hands. "You'll have to look long and hard to find anybody better than him, especially in the West Region."
Oothoudt took second in the region last year, losing to Bismarck Century's Loren Anderson 6-3, 6-1. He then took third in the state tournament, losing to eventual champion Erik Johnson (Grand Forks Red River) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Anderson and Johnson graduated and Oothoudt likes his chances this year.
"I'm expected to go do well and play well and finish on top," he said. "There are some players in Grand Forks that should give me a run for my money and it should be interesting.
Meet the Magicians
Seniors - Taylor Chavez, Jordin Gardner, Kyle Gerding, Landon Klein, Hunter Oothoudt, Lane Vendsel, Peter Wilson.
Juniors - Grayson Bahl, David Hurteau, Isaac Massey, Chace Peterson.
Sophomore - Dustin Foster.
Aug. - 24, vs. Jamestown at MCC, 4:15 p.m.; 25, Minot Round Robin at multiple courts, 9 a.m.; 28, vs. Williston at MCC, 4:15 p.m.
Sept. - 4, vs. Bismarck Century at MCC, 4:15 p.m.; 6, at Williston (4-3 format), 4 p.m.; 11, vs. Bismarck High at MCC, 4:15 p.m.; 14, at Fargo North, 10 a.m.; 14, at Fargo South, 12:30 p.m.; 14, at West Fargo, 3:30 p.m.; 15, at WF tournament, 9 a.m.; 18, at Dickinson, 4 p.m.; 20, at Mandan, 4 p.m.; 27-29, at West Region tournament in Bismarck, 10:30 a.m.
Oct. - 4-6, at state tournament in Bismarck, 1 p.m.
"It is my goal and my dream to get a state title and I'd love to make it come true. It'd mean a lot to me."
With a roster loaded with experience, the Magicians could also be in contention for team titles. DeLorme described Bismarck High, Century and Mandan as the top competition in the West Region. East Region power Grand Forks Red River has won the last 14 team state championships.
"The experience come tournament time is really big," DeLorme said. "It's a long, grueling three days, so hopefully having seniors that have been through that will give us a little edge."
MHS finished second in the region and fifth in the state in 2011. Playing behind Oothoudt in the No. 2 position is senior Landon Klein. Sophomore Dustin Foster (No. 3), junior Isaac Massey (No. 4), senior Lane Vendsel (No. 5) and senior Peter Wilson (No. 6) round out the singles lineup. Senior Jordin Gardner, a transfer from Phoenix, and classmate Kyle Gerding may also see varsity time.
Doubles partners haven't been finalized, but Oothoudt and Foster will begin at No. 1. DeLorme is comfortable pairing anyone with Oothoudt and appreciates the flexibility Klein gives him.
"Landon's kind of like the energizer bunny, he does not quit," DeLorme said. "Team comes first to him, which is awfully fun to see when you get a senior that way. You just ask him who he wants to play doubles with him, he says, 'I don't care. As long as we win, I don't care,' and that's what you want with your top players."
The Magicians host Jamestown at 4:15 p.m. Friday in the season opener at Magic City Campus. Teams from around the region will join the following morning for the Minot Round Robin, slated for a 9 a.m. start in various locations.