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Talent, experience to benefit Trojan netters

Several of the athletic programs at Hillsboro High School are under the microscope — the district is looking for programs that can be cut to save school costs.

At the top of the list is the Trojans’ tennis program, and boys coach Stuart Holmes and his team could be embarking on what may be Hillsboro’s final tennis season.

The Trojans will miss Clay Shewey and Ben Gottsch, but with the return of experienced, solid talent and a good corps of underclassmen, there’s reason for Holmes to expect a big year.

“The team has a good mix of experienced tennis athletes as well as some new athletes that have good potential as players,” Holmes said. “So it will make for competitive practices that hopefully can help us prepare to compete at a high level.”

With three years of tennis under his belt, senior Taylor Hagen will be one of Holmes’ leaders this year.

Hagen comes from a strong tennis background — his sister Danielle was a standout during her career and his cousin Michael is currently the head coach at Tabor College.

Hagen teamed up with Shewey last year to take seventh place at state in doubles competition, and Holmes is looking for another player to team up with Hagen to fill Shewey’s slot.

Junior Jared Hamm and sophomore Grant Shewey, Clay’s brother, had strong seasons in individual action a year ago, making them worthy candidates to team with Hagen.

Seniors Sam Bookless and Jonathan King are looking to challenge for their first season on varsity.

Sophomore Jesse Allen, along with Grant Shewey round out the class and should be strong contenders in singles’ play.

The freshman class is plentiful, led by Harry Faber, Tyler Funk, Daniel Gray, Jeff Pritchard, and Josh Wiebe.

“Once again, it’s great to have a number of good, young athletes to go along with the good athletes we are fortunate to have as part of our upperclassmen,” Holmes said. “It should be an exciting year.

“Certainly here in central Kansas, we get the opportunity to compete against some the best 3A and 4A tennis players in the state.”

Hillsboro will be tested, no mistake about it.

Conway Springs fields a strong team, as do Smoky Valley and Hesston.

The Trojans get the luxury of three meets at home, including the MCAA league meet.

“The season is off to a good start,” Holmes said, “but with just a few practices, it is too early to tell who will earn which varsity spots, and of course, that can change throughout the year.

“Every day we’ll be looking to improve in practice and make progress throughout the season. Tennis provides a great opportunity to challenge yourself mentally as well as physically and we want to grow in both areas each day, whether at practice or in competition.”

The season begins Thursday when Hillsboro travels to Conway Springs.

Last modified April 1, 2010

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