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HHS tennis set for 5A regional

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

For Hays High School No. 1 singles player Cody Brown, making state has been his goal since he started playing varsity as a sophomore.

Now a senior, Brown's last chance to qualify is Friday's Class 5A tennis regional at Salina South. The top six singles and top six doubles players at the regional make the state tournament.

It won't be easy. Hays High's regional might be one of the best in the state, featuring two of the top-three ranked teams in 5A -- Salina Central and Newton, ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively -- as well as reigning Western Athletic Conference champion Great Bend.

"I want them to treat it like another meet, but in the back of their heads, they have to know it's now or never," said first-year tennis coach Megan Quinley. "They can't let up at all, because they are really tough teams."

Brown, 15-12 this season, struggled in his last meet, going 0-4 at the WAC championships, but Quinley admitted, despite that, Brown still might be Hays High's best chance of qualifying.

"If he plays the way I've seen him play and not play timid and play with a lot of confidence, I think he has a really good chance of making it," she said.

Brown said he has to shake off his rough WAC tournament.

At the league tournament, he said he got stuck in a rut after a slow start. He faced two challenging opponents from Garden City and Great Bend and then lost a heartbreaker to Dodge City.

"After that, I was a little bit down," Brown said.

With the regional on the horizon, though, he said he is going to try to find a renewed focus.

"I don't have the best record, so I'll have to play a better seed," Brown said. "I have to go in thinking I have nothing to lose and he has everything to lose."

Hays High also will send senior Bayron Rivera (4-13) to compete in singles.

Senior Nicholas Glassman and sophomore Andrew McGinnis (9-10) will form one of Hays High's doubles teams, and junior Austin Berry and freshman Michael Ploutz (9-16) will form the other.

Hays High hasn't qualified a male tennis player for the state tournament since Taylor Ermoian in 2011.

Brown said he thinks it doesn't happen often due to the fact Hays High has to face tough regionals year after year.

"It's the strength of the regional," Brown said. "We have Salina Central, Salina South, Great Bend. We have those powerhouses. Hays is right there, but we're always a little too far back."