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Forinash leads HHS tennis team





Hays High School's Brooke Forinash was overwhelmed by the support she received last fall when she qualified for the Class 5A state tennis tournament as a sophomore. As great as that experience was, she also understands the amount of extra pressure it has placed on her as she begins her junior season on the HHS girls' tennis team.

"They made a huge deal out of it. But now it's the pressure of, 'Are you ready for tennis this year? Ready to go to state again?' It's like, 'Oh Gosh,'" Forinash said. "The pressure is two times as much as it was last year. We'll see how it goes. Nobody is going to be mad if I don't make it."

But Forinash, the only state qualifier last season for the Indians, isn't putting too much thought into what will happen if she doesn't make it back. Instead, it's about what she can do to be better prepared for state-level competition, which proved to be just as overwhelming as the support was last season.  

"I went to state and I can see the competition was not at all what I prepared for the last week before state, so this summer I just practiced a lot more on consistency," Forinash said. "It was a whole new intimidation factor. It's really good because you know how tough it is so you can prepare for it next time."

Forinash will enter this season as the Indians' top-ranked singles player when they open their schedule Thursday at Cimarron. Although, she could find some competition from senior Emily McPherson and junior Fabi Pyschny, a foreign-exchange student from Germany. Which combinations will make up Hays High's doubles teams could be a revolving door throughout the season, with Forinash a possible option despite having been a singles player most of her varsity career.

The next three in line to see significant varsity action early in the season are junior Sylina Zhang, sophomore Sierra Brown and freshman Sarah Wyse.

"Don't get me wrong, Brooke is great. But she will have some competition this year," first-year coach Bryce McClung said. "Everything she has right now is pretty great. Only thing she could really work on is a little more power, a little more consistency. But I think everyone can work on that. I'm excited to see how far she goes."

McClung, a 2012 Hays High graduate, is the third coach in three years for the Indians. He replaces Megan Quinley, who returned to her hometown of Salina after finishing her degree from Fort Hays State University in the spring. Prior to Quinley the team was coached by Brett Jensen, now coaching at Goddard High School, and McClung's coach his senior year.  

Before that the team was coached by McClung's father, Justin McClung. His twin brother, Blake McClung, was Bryce McClung's doubles partner through their junior season at Hays High.

McClung, 20, never went to college, but continued to play tennis through the United States Tennis Association. He also works as an audio engineer for Singers in Hays and is looking forward to following in his father's footsteps as a tennis coach.

"I could definitely see myself doing this long term. It's a lot of fun," McClung said. "The paperwork at the beginning of the season is never a whole lot of fun. But teaching people and just being around tennis is always a good time for me."

McClung has put a lot of early emphasis on conditioning, something he hopes will pay big dividends sooner rather than later. Conditioning also was a major part of Forinash's offseason workouts, as she found out the hard way at state last season that her endurance wasn't where it needed to be.

"Don't get me wrong, it is awful. I've sweated more than I probably ever have," Forinash said of the team's conditioning program. "But it's really great. I feel a lot better when I'm playing. I don't feel tired. I'd rather play a whole day and not be tired."

To go along with Thursday morning's varsity season opener at Cimarron, the Indians' junior varsity team will play at Russell Thursday afternoon. Next on the schedule is Hays High's lone home meet, to be held the afternoon of Sept. 4.

The Indians will play seven varsity meets before going to Great Bend for the Western Athletic Conference meet on Oct. 6.

Regionals will take place Oct. 11, with the state meet occurring Oct. 17-18.

"You want to prove to those people that it wasn't just luck last time," Forinash said of trying to get back to state. "That you can do it again. I just want to make them proud."