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HHS confident for 5A tennis regional

Published on -10/5/2012, 10:25 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School tennis coach Brett Jensen was thankful when his team's regional was posted.

The Indians will travel Saturday to Valley Center for their Class 5A regional, and fortunately for Hays High, Jensen said this might be the least difficult regional the Indians have seen in years.

The regional doesn't feature a single team in the statewide rankings. Teams competing there will include Hays High, Goddard, Goddard-Eisenhower, Great Bend, Maize South, Newton and Valley Center.

There's no Wichita-Bishop Carroll, no Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel, no Salina South and no Salina Central -- teams usually in Hays High's regional.

"This is probably the best regional I've ever seen Hays get into as a player and as a coach," Jensen said. "To my knowledge, there's not a single ranked team in the top five in our regional. There's usually two or three teams ranked in the top five in the state."

That's a positive for Hays High after suffering a disappointing third-place finish at the Western Athletic Conference championship on Monday in Garden City -- a year after winning the school's first-ever WAC title.

Hays High hopes to send at least one competitor or team through to the state tournament Oct. 12-13 in Topeka. The top six singles and top six doubles finishers qualify for state.

"I'm liking my odds," Jensen said. "I think we match up well with a lot of the competition there. I think if we come out playing strong, we have a good chance of getting a few teams to state."

Hays High's top doubles team of senior Megan Bird and Janae Gagnon might have the best shot of making it to state. They went 20-8 this season and finished second at WAC.

"We have high expectations for them," Jensen said. "Their goal as seniors is to get to state. ... We've put a lot of pressure on them at practice to get better. We've worked on a lot of different things and hit the ball a little harder at them in practice."

Bird hopes they make it.

Bird said it's the last goal her team has to accomplish, which is significant, considering she said her team failed to accomplish their other two goals of defending their WAC title and winning at least three regular season tournaments (Hays High won two).

"We wanted to qualify at least one team or one person to state this year," Bird said. "It's going to be tough on Saturday to do that, but I bet we could do it. I believe we have the talent -- at least for one person."

The sister duo of junior Kelsee DeBoer and freshman Taylor DeBoer also have enjoyed a successful season, going 18-12 and finishing second at WAC.

The regional will feature Great Bend, though, which swept Hays High in singles and doubles at the WAC championship.

"Great Bend is probably going to be one of the top teams there," Jensen said. "I would put Great Bend and Maize South as the top two teams."

Jensen said he expects singles to be highly competitive, but he believes senior Shelby Dinkel (17-15) and freshman Brooke Forinash (22-11) have demonstrated they can compete with the best.

"(Dinkel's) had some really close matches with some really good girls," Jensen said. "A lot of her losses are to people we know she can beat and people she has beat."

"For Brooke, she's got a really impressive record as a freshman at No. 2 singles, but the difference between No. 2 singles and No. 1 singles is huge," Jensen added.

"When she plays some of this competition at 1s, it's going to be a good experience for her."

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