Sienna Jones, Ava Meinhardt | staff writers
Tennis coach Brendan Praeger has high hopes going into the 2022 tennis season. The numbers have increased this year with some competitive returning players.
“We were very young last year, with all but one player entering their first varsity contests at the start of the season. While that isn’t ideal, that experience should pay off this year,” Praeger said.
On the singles side, junior Baylie Tharman is back for her third year playing tennis. Tharman has been dual-sporting with volleyball and tennis all three years. “It’s hard finding time to practice both because different coaches want different things for practice times. Balancing that with schoolwork is also challenging,” Tharman said.
Even with her dual-sporting, Praeger expects good things from the player. “Baylie Tharman is probably our strongest individual player. She’s a good singles player who has worked really hard over the summer. By the end of last year she was competitive at regionals, and she has improved every part of her game.”
Sophomore Ava Huske will play the other singles position for the start of the year.
Danielle Murphy is one of two seniors on the team. Playing all four years, Murphy is looking for a successful season. As a varsity player her junior year, she’s hopeful for regionals and state — on both a competitive level as well as just enjoying her final season. “It’s a fun sport overall, and a great way to get out and try something new,” Murphy said.
Murphy will partner with sophomore Meredith Denton for the first meet. “Meredith has a tremendous serve and I can tell she understands strategy and court position a lot better this year,” Praeger said. “I think she’ll have a lot more confidence than she had as a freshman.
Sophomore Emily Meyer will partner with junior Ava Meinhardt at #2 doubles. “Emily improved a lot since her freshman season, and Ava worked hard all summer. I think they will improve a lot throughout the season,” Praeger said.
Ally Garst is the other senior. Although it’s her first year on the team, she’s just as excited. “I’m enjoying it so far. It’s very fun and I’m learning lots of new things.”
Sophomore Kyra Smith, and freshmen Hailey and Chloe Standefer complete the roster.
Praeger said the team should be competitive right away. ”We have had someone each year who’s in the hunt for state. We should be in that position again this year.”
At the end of the season, Wabaunsee will have the opportunity to host the 3-2-1A State tournament for the first time ever. The tournament is scheduled for October 14-15 at Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka. “It’s great that we can host, even though our facilities don’t even allow us to host meets. I’m happy to keep the tournament in our part of the state and I think we can provide a good experience for participating schools,” Praeger said.
The team begins its season at 10 a.m. Thursday in Wamego.