Legendary tennis coach Phil Barnes passes away

LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – The tennis community is mourning 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 Duncan Public Schools Athletic Director, said Barnes was a major influence on the tennis court, and an even greater influence on the community.

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

Barnes’ name and achievements are in five halls of fame. His latest induction was in July, to the Oklahoma Coaches Association.

His daughter, Melanie Cox, said her father created a great legacy, especially for the students of Duncan.

“The champion of tennis, and especially rural tennis, because we’re in Duncan, not one of the big cities. It was him for sure,” Cox said.

Barnes coached fifty-nine all-state players, one of them 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 a mentor.

“They’re pretty big shoes to fill, you can never fill them because he’s just been so successful and had a great program throughout the years. You just don’t want to screw it up, you just want to continue what he did. He left a great foundation. His legacy will never go away, it’s ingrained in me, and it’s ingrained into all his former players,” Cobble said.

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

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

Melanie said her father had a massive stroke in May.

“He had to get brain surgery, and then he has just been in the hospital recovering. He was in the hospital for 74 days before he passed,” Cox said.

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

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

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