With five letter-winners, including a state medalist, returning this spring for the Hillsboro boys’ tennis team, coach Stuart Holmes won’t be short on experienced competitors.
Anchoring his seven-member squad is senior Harry Faber, who placed ninth last spring in the Class 3-2-1A state tournament and posted a 23-15 record for the season.
“Harry has an excellent game, along with the competitive drive to continue to battle in matches—which will be needed for the tough competition he will face this year at No. 1 singles,” Holmes said.
“The tennis he plays on the court, as well as his leadership, should be strong.”
Two additional letter-winners, seniors Jeff Pritchard and Daniel Gray, have been looking good in preseason practice, according to Holmes. The duo went 12-19 playing No. 1 doubles in 2012, and just missed qualifying for state.
“These two guys may play doubles together again, but we have talked about experimenting with each of them getting the opportunity to play some singles,” Holmes said. “Both have a solid game and could be competitive either way.”
The two remaining letter-winners, senior Tyler Funk and junior Ty Carey, frequently played No. 2 doubles last year.
“These two players, along with (junior) River Cecil, who returns for his second season, will likely also get a chance to play both singles and doubles before we settle on some positions after we look at some different lineups.”
What the team lacks in numbers, it makes up for in determination, according to Holmes.
“Practice has been going very well,” he said. “The guys have had a great attitude about working hard to improve each day. Tennis provides a great opportunity to challenge yourself mentally as well as physically, and we want to grow in both areas every day—whether at practice or in competition.”
Last season, the Trojans finished fifth in the seven-school Central Kansas League tournament on the strength of third place finishes by then-senior Grant Shewey in No. 1 singles and Faber in No. 2 singles.
Gray and Pritchard placed fifth in No. 1 doubles while Carey and Funk placed sixth.
Tradition-rich Hesston, Sterling, Smoky Valley and Pratt claimed the top four places in the tournament and likely will be contending teams again this season.
“Certainly here in central Kansas, we get the chance to compete against some of best 3A and 4A tennis players in the state,” Holmes said.
Hillsboro will open competition tomorrow (March 28) at Conway Spring with matches starting at 3 p.m. The Trojans will host invitational tournaments April 4 and 16.
With eight varsity events on the regular-season schedule, the Trojans will have extra motivation to do well in this year’s regional tournament May 3.
“We are fortunate to have great facilities and will be hosting the 3-2-1A KSHSAA State Tennis championships May 10-11,” Holmes said. “So it should be an exciting year.”