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Tiger tennis wins 8-1 against Hastings

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Fort Hays State University freshman Katie Hipp was cleared to play tennis. Hipp, from Claflin, was fine academically, but had a transcript issue after she took dual credit through Barton County Community College.

Hipp won 8-0 at No. 2 doubles, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4 singles and helped the Tigers to an 8-1 victory against NAIA Hastings (Neb.) College on Thursday at the FHSU Courts.

"It's nice to have her in the lineup," coach Brian Flax said. "I know she is really excited to get out there and her teammates were excited for her, and played real well today for the first out. In the singles match, she was very consistent, made very few mistakes. She is so athletic. Her best days are out in front of her yet."

Hipp's entrance changed the doubles lineup. Flax had played juniors Camille Caron-Bedard and Brittney Ricci, the top two singles players, together in doubles. Flax had a choice. Either he could keep Caron-Bedard and Ricci together and possibly be a "little softer" at No. 2 or No. 3 doubles. Or, he could split up the veterans and pair them with freshmen.

Flax decided for the split. Caron-Bedard and freshman Reinette Strydom won 8-4 at No. 1 doubles and Hipp and Ricci rolled at No. 2 doubles. FHSU moved to 3-2 this fall in what Flax labeled a "workmanlike" performance.

"She teams up really well with Brittany," Flax said. "Brittany is a really fiery kind of player, and Katie is that way as well. I think they are going to be a good doubles team this year."

Last weekend, Caron-Bedard was unseeded, but made a run to the Round of 16 at the ITA Fall Regional in Springfield, Mo. Caron-Bedard went 2-1. In the first round she beat University of Nebraska-Kearney's Kristin Weems, the No. 14 seed, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.

Caron-Bedard was the only unseeded player to beat a seeded player (top 16) in the first round of the 64-person bracket.

She was one of four unseeded players to reach the Round of 16.

"That girl from Kearney just didn't make mistakes and Cami played her game and was very patient and when the opportunity to hit a winner happened, she did it," Flax said. "It was a long, tough match for her, took a lot out of her for the rest of the tournament, but that was a big win for her."

In the second match, Caron-Bedard won 6-1, 6-4 before she lost 6-1, 6-0 to Masha Andrianova, the second seed from Southern Nazarene.

Ricci went 0-2 at singles with losses of 6-3, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-2. Ricci and Caron-Bedard lost 8-3 to a doubles team in the first round from Arkansas Tech that was ranked seventh.

"Brittany just didn't play very well down there, and I think she would be one of the first ones to say that," Flax said. "The competition was good, but I know that Brittany knows that she can play a lot better than she did."