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Tiger tennis starts spring season this weekend

3/4/2011

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

In the fall, the Fort Hays State University women's tennis team finished 1-5. The Tigers defeated NAIA Hastings (Neb.) College 9-0 and had two big losses, 9-0 and 8-1. But the Tigers also suffered three close defeats by 6-3 margins.

"It felt like there really should have been no reason that we shouldn't have gone 3-2," coach Brian Flax said. "We lost a couple of matches we felt we should have won."

After the fall, Fort Hays focused on the basics and had what Flax labeled "a really good offseason." The Tigers will open spring play Saturday at Hastings. Match time is 11 a.m.

"It seems like our play right now is quite a bit better than what it was the fall," Flax said. "We are really excited to get out there and get started."

Last year, Fort Hays finished 6-12 overall and 1-6 in MIAA. The Tigers' first home match is March 12 against Kansas Wesleyan University, followed by the conference opener with Northwest Missouri State University on March 18.

"We have improved a lot," Flax said. "We have a long ways to continue to improve and get better. I think we can surprise some people this year. The team is very young yet, but they have a lot of experience on the court."

Sophomores Laura Johnson and Melissa Skovira will be in the mix at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Past that, Flax is uncertain about his lineup. Likely, freshman Zoie Young and sophomore Brianna Watkins will play at No. 3 and No. 4. Junior Brittney Shea, sophomore Amy Guilliams and freshman Megan Quinley will round out the lineup. The doubles teams weren't set earlier in the week.

"Megan has been fighting a little shoulder injury, so she is still not back and not at 100 percent, so that may affect how things pan out a little bit," Flax said.

Record-wise, Shea has seen the most improvement from last year. She finished 2-5 last season and posted a 5-3 record in the fall, tied with Guilliams for best on the squad.

"Brittney is a hard worker," Flax said. "I can say that about my entire team. That's a great thing to have as a coach. Very coachable. She got put into a tough situation her freshman year, but that experience of playing those better players has helped, and now that she is playing down a little from No. 1, she is able to have some success."

In the fall, Hastings didn't have a full squad. Flax expects Hastings to have more players this time and be "a lot better team." Plus, Hastings is more used to its indoor facility's playing surface.

"Little bit faster," Flax said. "It's a big advantage for the serve and volleyers. ... The ball hits the surface and it skids. You really just have got to be prepared early because that ball is going to be on top of you very quick."


Scoreboard
Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)