TENNIS: Hagen, Hefley key to HHS?s chances for success in 2000

With his top two players returning and three promising freshmen coming in, Hillsboro High School tennis coach Lonnie Isaac thinks his team will be competitive against a rigorous schedule this season.

Juniors Michael Hagen and Jared Hefley will fill the top two spots on the team again this year and should make major contributions.

?They were both state qualifiers last year,? Isaac said. ?They were our top two players last year and I expect them to lead us again this year.

?They qualified for state as freshmen in doubles, so we have the luxury of placing them wherever we feel they can do the best,? he said.

The two will be complemented by freshmen Brandon Ratzlaff, Nick Unruh and Caleb Dirks, all of whom are expected to fill key spots in Isaac?s game plan.

?They are all good players already,? Isaac said. ?I think all three will be in our top six, but that could change because we have had some really good ladder matches.?

The competitiveness on the team will help the Trojans as they attempt to improve on last season, which included a regional tournament team championship.

This year, Hillsboro will travel to Hesston for regional play. But if the Trojans qualify for state, they will have the advantage of playing at home for the state tournament.

The Trojans face tough league competition, with Collegiate and Ellinwood returning as heavy favorites to win the title.

Last year, Collegiate won the state championship in Class 3-2-1A. But for the first time in a while, the Spartans did not win any individual titles.

?They will have some very good players,? Isaac said, ?but the thing that makes them so tough is their depth. They have six good players.?

Isaac said the Trojans should compete for a higher spot in league play this year.

?We are going to be stronger than we have been in the past because of our added depth,? he said. ?But we still probably are only in the middle of our league. Last year we finished seventh out of eight teams in our league but won our regional. I think that is just a testament to how strong our league is.?

Hagen is expected to play No. 1 singles with Hefley close behind.

?They played a challenge match and they were pretty even,? Isaac said. ?I think they can both do very well this year. I think Michael is good enough to be among the top four at state this year.?

Along with Hagen and Hefley, the Trojans return sophomore Kaleb Borg from last season?s team.

Depending on what other teams bring to the table this season, Isaac sees the Trojans showing much improvement.

?I think we can really improve our chances,? he said. ?Brandon Ratzlaff is good enough that he is going to be our third player. And with the others coming up, we are really going to be stronger this season.?

Hillsboro will take part in several tough tournaments this season, including the Wichita Collegiate Tournament of Champions, a meet that features the top players in the state regardless of school size.

Isaac said the Smoky Valley Invitational will also be a tough tournament, along with the MCAA league showdown.

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