ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro lawns should be so lucky to be as green as the Trojan boys’ tennis team is at this time of the year.
Coach Kory Unruh lost four of his six varsity players to graduation last spring. The two who return, Macy Fadenrecht and Kyle Kroeker, played No. 2 doubles and are only sophomores.
Those two, plus Unruh’s only other returning letter-winner, senior Wade Kimbrel, will form the core of this year’s squad.
“Our outlook is young, definitely,” Unruh said. “In terms of varsity experience, we’re lacking a ton. But I’m really looking for those two sophomores and Wade to hopefully develop into leaders. Macy and Kyle played varsity almost all year together last year at No. 2 doubles, and that was a good thing.”
With a roster of only eight players, Unruh will need some of his inexperienced players to step up if the Trojans are to be competitive as team.
Leading the list of most likely candidates to do that is sophomore Peter Fast, who is back after competing mostly in a junior-varsity role last season.
“Peter Fast is really improved,” Unruh said.
The other two spots will be up for grabs among four hopefuls who are out for tennis for the first time as high schoolers: seniors Justin Hein and Tyler Krich and sophomores Robert Jost and Michael Bosworth.
“They’ll be inexperienced and I’m not expecting a lot out of them right away,” Unruh said. “Justin could come into a varsity spot once we get going. He’s not too bad. He can hit the ball around.
“Robert Jost isn’t bad either.”
Given his team’s youth and inexperience, Unruh isn’t expecting the Trojans to start as gangbusters.
“I think we’ll struggle early at the top spots as far as being able to compete,” he said. “But I think the lower side-the No. 2 singles and perhaps the No. 2 doubles-may not favor too badly. Eventually, I hope we’ll be able to win at the top.”
Only a few days before his team’s opener Thursday at Conway Springs, Unruh hadn’t determined who will be playing singles and who will be playing doubles this season.
“I would like to keep Macy and Kyle together (in doubles), but I really need to separate them for strength,” he said.
Those two, plus Kimbrel and Fast, will round out his top four. But Kroeker won’t be competing at Conway Springs because he won’t be officially cleared in time by his doctor following knee surgery this fall.
“He’s practicing with us and is fine,” Unruh said. “He just hasn’t been formally released.”
The Conway Springs opener would be tough even if his squad was at full strength, he added.
“Conway is probably is one of the favorites to win as a state team, in my opinion, especially since Wichita Collegiate moved up to 4A,” he said.
Unruh expects Collegiate to join the Mid Central Activities Association’s two other perennial powers, Hesston and Smoky Valley, in the chase for a Mid Central Activities Association title.
“Hopefully, we can pull in there sometime, but we’ll see,” Unruh said about his team’s status.
“If we can come in at the middle of the pack, I don’t think that’s far off from having a successful year with these guys.
“There’s not a lot of expectations for us-and that’s a good thing, I think,” he added. “We’re going to strive and achieve the best we can and just continue to get better throughout the year.”
Whether the Trojans will be able to qualify anyone for state this year remains to be seen. Regardless, Hillsboro will host this year’s Class 3A state tournament May 21-22.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF