By RON PRESTON
The Abilene Cowboy’s tennis team returns three state medalists from last season and begins this year a pre-season ranked fifth in Class 4A by the Kansas Tennis Coaches Association.
“We have really high expectations for this year,” said Coach Garry Stredney.
“Matthew was third in the state last year and Kaynan and Conner were 10th place in the state also, so we do have high expectations for this season,” Stredney continued.
Seniors Matthew Barlow, Kaynan Anderson and Connor Kijowski will lead the team.
Barlow was a third place state medalist for the Cowboys last year and is beginning the season as Abilene’s No. one singles player.
Anderson and Kijowski both earned a 10th place medal last season in doubles and once again will begin the year as the No. one doubles team for Abilene.
Sophomore Gabe Johnson will begin the season as the No. two singles player on the team.
Junior Tyler Schiffner and sophomore Reggie Koop will be slotted as the No. two doubles team.
“This is a very good starting point for us until we see what other teams will have,” said coach Stredney.
“Wichita Collegiate, McPherson and Topeka Hayden, teams like that are going to be very very good this year. Since we haven’t seen any of them yet, it’s really hard to judge where we fit in, but I expect our team to have a great year and improve every week and hopefully when league, regionals and state roll around we are playing our best,” coach Stredney added.
“We are really looking forward to some good competition this year with playing tournaments in Junction City and Hays and at Smoky Valley next week will be very tough competition for us and that will be a good tournament for us,’ he said.
Other student athletes on the tennis team include: juniors Matthew Anguiano, Noah Callis, Justin Houser, Keil Kelly, Nolan Mayden and Jesse Patrick.
Sophomore Erik Hageman and freshmen Josh Angst, Colten Liby, Jacob Minson, Jason Petz, Weston Shehi and Jonah West are listed on the roster for JV competion and depth.
“We’re fighting the limited outside practices everyday. But whatever we do inside the gym is not the same as being on the court outside.
“Then the first two weeks of the practice season we didn’t have the basketball players yet and so that got us a little behind. It’s been kind of a struggle with the weather and then spring break,” coach Stredney added.
“But, I think the players are coming along pretty good,” he concluded.
Coach Stredney is assisted by assistant Coach Mike Willey.
The varsity will host an Abilene Triangular match with Marysville and Manhattan, Thursday beginning at 3:30 p.m. to begin the varsity season.