FHSU tennis drops pair of MIAA outings
Published on -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM
Camille Caron-Bedard, a junior on the Fort Hays State University women’s tennis team, has had a long month of recovery after spraining the inside arch of her right foot.
Before this weekend, the team’s top singles player last played March 15 at Missouri Western. Caron-Bedard missed seven consecutive matches since, a streak that finally ended on Friday when she took the court against Emporia State University and again Saturday against Washburn University.
“It was great having Cami back in the lineup for both days. She practiced a little on Thursday and said she was going to give it a go,” FHSU tennis coach Brian Flax said. “I’d probably put her about 80 percent right now. But just having her in the lineup, you can see the team was a little more fired up.”
Unfortunately, 80 percent wasn’t enough, as the Tigers lost both matches 8-1 at the FHSU tennis courts in MIAA contests. The losses send Fort Hays to 7-10 overall, and 2-7 in MIAA play with a trip to Nebraska-Kearney on Monday the only remaining conference match.
The top eight conference teams advance to the MIAA Championships in Springfield, Mo., which begins April 25. The loss to Washburn proved especially painful for the Tigers, as the Ichabods had entered Saturday with only one conference win.
“We thought we matched up well with them. They’ve been having some hard times as well,” Flax said. “We got one out of three in the doubles, which really kept us in there, but singles wise, they just were able to hold us off. We had a lot of games that were close and we made a silly mistake.”
Fort Hays was swept in Saturday’s singles competition, including a 6-0, 6-3 loss for Caron-Bedard to Washburn’s No. 1, Casyn Buchman. The only win came in the No. 2 doubles match, where FHSU junior Brittney Ricci and freshman Katie Hipp defeated Washburn’s Kirsten Holle and Gwen Shepler, 8-6.
Friday’s results against Emporia State (15-5, 7-2 MIAA), ranked No. 9 in the region, were nearly identical to Saturday, with Ricci and Hipp getting the only win for the Tigers’ in the No. 2 doubles competition.
“Brittney is very intense and that kind of gets Katie’s intensity up. So yeah, those two have been playing well,” Flax said. “We feel good about the level we are playing; we’ve just played some teams that have another level. Being in your conference stretch and to have injuries and sickness, that’s never a good thing.”
On top of Caron-Bedard’s foot and other minor bumps and bruises from other players, freshman McKenzie Haynes had also missed some time before returning this weekend because of illness. Haynes is the other half of the team’s No. 1 doubles duo with Caron-Bedard.
But if there is a silver lining, Flax can find it in the team’s youth, something that came to mind on Saturday in what would have been senior day for the Tigers, only there aren’t any seniors on the seven-player roster.
“What injuries and what illness do is they force kids to step up and get in the lineup that maybe wouldn’t get that opportunity. The growth of our four freshmen kids from the start of the fall to now is just unbelievable,” Flax said.
“I know a bunch of them are hurting with little, nagging injuries. It’s just that time of the year. But I expect them to play hard all the time and to this point, I can’t tell you a match that the kids have not played hard. They have pride in themselves.”
The Tigers sit at ninth in the MIAA heading into Monday’s conference finale with Kearney (18-5, 6-3), a half game back of Washburn. Washburn still has matches against Missouri Western State and Northwest Missouri State left on its conference schedule.
FHSU wraps up its regular season schedule with a trip to Newman University in Wichita next Saturday.