Large returning class could elevate program

Returning four of his five top players and five of six from last year?s starting lineup that finished third in the KCAC last season, Tabor tennis coach Jim Paulus is expecting good things to happen in 2000.

?We are a much-improved team, with a solid group of returners, including our top four players, as well as a talented group of freshman,? Paulus said.

Heading the list of returners is Tyler Brown, a junior from McPherson who was named first team all-conference last spring.

?Tyler returns as our No. 1 player and will be one of the top couple of players in conference,? Paulus said.

Mark Breeden, a junior from Hays, received honorable-mention status.

He will be joined by Nate Wienandt, a junior from Manhattan, and Tim Balzer, a junior from Buhler, as returning backup for Brown.

?Mark, Nate and Tim bring experience to the group,? Paulus said. ?I am looking for these three players to raise their game to a knew level, now that they are juniors.?

Paulus is excited about his freshman class, which includes John Franz from Buhler, James Fisher from Maize, Paul Raugust from Wichita, Ryan Camping from Phoenix, Ariz., and Isai Mireles from Rio Grande City, Texas.

?The freshman have made their presence known in practice and have pushed the upper classmen,? Paulus said. ?This will make everyone better.?

Rounding out the Bluejays? roster is Josh Lady, a sophomore from Abilene.

Paulus looks for perennial powers Bethel and Bethany to be the teams to beat in the KCAC this season.

?We have narrowed the gap, but we have a lot of work to do if we are going to challenge these teams for the conference title,? Paulus said. ?Our success this year will depend greatly on our juniors and their ability to raise their level of play.?

Even if his team doesn?t crack the KCAC elite this season, Paulus looks with optimism to the future.

?With no seniors, I am very excited about the direction of the program and its continued improvement in conference play,? he said.

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