Gray, Funk to lead HHS tennis

Coach Bob Woelk has seven athletes on the girls? tennis team this fall. They are: front row (from left) Shelby Johnson, Sonja Jost, Mary Leihy; back row, Hannah Funk, Ellian Weisbeck, Allison Gray and Anna Glanzer. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press
Coach Bob Woelk has seven athletes on the girls? tennis team this fall. They are: front row (from left) Shelby Johnson, Sonja Jost, Mary Leihy; back row, Hannah Funk, Ellian Weisbeck, Allison Gray and Anna Glanzer. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

With the graduation of four-year state qualifier Allison Weber, the Hillsboro tennis team will be looking for two experienced seniors to lead the Trojans this season.

?I think we?ll be competitive,? said Bob Woelk, who begins his eighth year as coach. ?We have several seniors, two of whom have been with us for their four years. That?s kind of encouraging?and they have shown improvement.?

Senior Allison Gray is heir apparent for the No. 1 singles slot.

?I really like the improvement in her forehand and backhand strokes,? Woelk said. ?She puts topspin on the ball and in practice has been quite aggressive, which is really good to see.?

Woelk said Gray has worked on her game in the off-season.

?She has had a busy summer, but she has been working some with her dad on her hitting?and it shows,? he said. ?She?s probably the strongest hitter I have right now.?

Woelk hopes to help Gray?as well as his other players?develop a stronger serve.

?With girls, that can go a long ways,? he said. ?I want us to be more aggressive, I want us to try to finish points earlier.?

Hannah Funk, Woelk?s other four-year senior, is leaning toward doubles.

?Hannah is an improved player,? Woelk said. ?She played a lot this summer and is showing good improvement.?

Woelk said his challenge is to find a doubles partner who will complement Funk?s strengths.

Two early candidates for that spot are senior Mary Leihy, in her second year on the team, and Ellian Weis?beck, a sophomore who is new to the team after playing volleyball in 2014.

?Mary is powerful, but she has to get it under control,? Woelk said. ?But she?s working really hard.?

At nearly 6 feet tall, Weis?beck?s presence at the net could be imposing as a doubles partner.

?She is showing skills, but there?s no substitute for game experience,? Woelk said. She has very quick reflexes and she?s tall, so she will be imposing. But, like with all young players, we have to teach a little killer instinct.?

Anna Glanzer is the lone junior on the team.

?She is also getting stronger,? Woelk said. ?She?s a pretty consistent hitter, we just need to get her velocity up a little bit.?

Sophomore Sonja Jost is returning for her second season.

?She?s also really strong,? Woelk said. ?Her issue right now?which is true for most young players?is consistency.?

Rounding out Woelk?s seven-player roster is sophomore Shelby Johnson, who is out for tennis for the first time.

?Her learning curve is steep,? he said. ?She feels like she?s learning, and I feel like she?s learning.?

Woelk?s overall goal for his players is to get them to a point where they can be competitive at the league tournament and regionals.

?I?ve been pleased with their athleticism and their quickness with the racket,? he said. ?That?s been a really positive thing.?

Settling on a consistent tournament lineup may be a season-long process.

?We may be experimenting a lot, but that?s OK because if you?re not going to have an outstanding record going into regionals, it doesn?t make a whole lot of difference.?

Even with Weber on board last season, the Trojans placed seventh at the Central Kansas League tournament. Woelk said defending champion Hesston should be strong agains.

?We actually host league this year (Oct. 3), so that will be fun,? Woelk said.

The Trojans were to open the season Sept. 2 by hosting the first of two home invitational tournaments. v