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HHS girls' tennis set for season

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

When Megan Quinley began her coaching career in the spring with the Hays High School boys' tennis team, she was forced to deal with many limitations.

For one, she had never coached before. And with so few players having gone out for the team, she wasn't given much option on who to play.

Quinley won't have either of those limitations this fall in her first season leading the Hays High girls' tennis team.

"The first day, when I walked up and saw all those girls sitting there, I was shocked," Quinley said. "With the boys I was asking them to go out and find more people."

The girls' fall roster includes 17 players, giving Quinley and assistant coach Caitlyn Wark more options than even they know what to do with.

But this also means the stakes will be raised once the season gets underway Thursday at the Cimarron Invitational.

"It's not like I have all these girls that haven't played before," Quinley said. "I actually expect a lot, especially from the girls that are on varsity now and worked with me over the summer."

This year's varsity players will have big shoes to fill after the Indians graduated Janae Gagnon, Megan Bird and Shelby Dinkel, all state qualifiers last season.

"It's definitely different for me and a lot of the other varsity players because this is our first year on varsity," senior Molly Barnett said. "We definitely have to take that leap and work hard."

The differences aren't only in the roster, but in the way Quinley approaches her coaching duties. When she took over the boys' team in the spring, it proved to be a lot of trial and error for the first-time coach.

But with a season under her, Quinley has had a chance to learn from both her mistakes and successes as the fall season approaches.

"Being the new girl last year, I wanted my team to like me. I was afraid to lay down the rules," Quinley said. "I thought I wasn't going to be able to handle it at first. There was so much behind the scenes stuff that I never realized being a player. Definitely getting that first season under my belt takes some pressure off."

Quinley is a 2010 graduate of Salina South High School and played tennis for two seasons at Fort Hays State University before a shoulder injury forced her out of the game. She replaced former Hays High tennis coach Brett Jensen, who is now at Goddard High School. Wark, a Colby graduate, also spent two seasons on the Fort Hays tennis team.

"It's definitely different, but she is doing a very good job," Barnett said of Quinley. "There are a lot of new things she is teaching us that maybe Brett taught us differently, but it's very good.

"We might need a little more practice, but I feel we are ready to go."

Barnett will pair with fellow senior Kelsee Deboer as the top doubles team for Hays High on Thursday, with juniors Emily McPherson and Ashley Cossaart operating as the second team.

Sophomore Brooke Forinash and senior Julie Balzer will be the top-ranked singles players.

Following Thursday's opener in Cimarron, the varsity team will host its only home match of the season on Sept. 5. The junior varsity team will also host a tournament on Sept. 19.