New coach on board for tennis

Three letter-winners form the core of the Hillsboro tennis team under the leadership of coach Erin Hein. They are (from left) Shelby Johnson, Ellian Weisbeck and Kayla Gunn.
Three letter-winners form the core of the Hillsboro tennis team under the leadership of coach Erin Hein. They are (from left) Shelby Johnson, Ellian Weisbeck and Kayla Gunn.
Hillsboro girls’ tennis features a new coach and a slightly larger roster for the 2017 season.

Coach Erin Hein is mentoring nine girls, ranging in experience from two senior and one junior veteran to four freshmen, some in their first year of competition.

The returning veterans are seniors Ellian Weisbeck and Shelby Johnson and junior Kayla Gunn.

That core is bolstered by junior Chey­enne Bernhardt and sophomore Olivia Jury. The fresh­men foursome are Callie Bern­hardt, Kailee Funk, Kyla Isaac and Haley Loewen.

“I’m definitely looking to my three returning players on the court this year, and they have been doing a good job so far,” Hein said. “They’ve been welcoming to the new ones out here and have shown some leadership so far.”

Such a varied mix of experience would be challenging for any coach, but Hein may have the genetics and coaching lineage to pull it off.

“I’ve been involved with (girls’ tennis) for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My grandparents (Al and Roberta Isaac) and my mom (Lynn Wiebe) used to lead the tennis camps growing up. I had my mom as my high school tennis coach and (uncle) Lonnie (Isaac) as my coach at Tabor.”

Hein was a four-year tennis player while at HHS and represented the team as a doubles player at the 2004 Class 3-2-1A state tournament.

When the opportunity arose to be the head coach this fall, Hein was interested.

“I was told around December that there could be an opening,” she said. “That prompted me to give the school a call and go from there with it.”

A larger roster was a welcomed starting gift.

“It’s up from years past, so I’m glad to have those numbers,” she said. “I have two seniors and a junior returning this year and six new ones. Of those, I have one coming in with some experience and I have several others who have really picked it up quickly.”

The experience gap between veterans and beginners would be a challenge for any lone coach.

“In practice you kind of have to do a variety of things,” Hein said. “You want those experienced ones doing drills and playing together, because that’s how they improve. But you also want to mix it up and put them with new players because that challenge also helps them improve.”

The season-opening Hillsboro Invitational was Aug. 29. Hein has been thinking about lineup scenarios, but declined to commit herself when interviewed.

“We’re going to have some challenge rounds this week, which will kind of help me put them into the position I want them in,” she said.

Hein said she likes the improvement she’s seen from her athletes during the preseason.

“I’ve been really impressed, especially with the ones who come out here with no experience and are starting from the beginning,” she said. “From then to now, I’m impressed with that.”

Her biggest concern about her team’s fortunes this season is predictable.

“I would say the biggest obstacle is we’re a young, new team,” she said. “This is definitely going to be a building year.”

The Trojans’ second home tournament of the season is schedule for Sept. 21 at the Sports Complex.