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Tennis balls set to fly Sunday

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The Baker men’s and women’s tennis teams have battled the elements this semester to prepare for the upcoming season, which officially starts Sunday in Topeka.

“It’s hard because we can only play outside when it’s nice out,” freshman Molly Flanigan said.

The tennis squads have barely had any chances to play on actual outdoor courts and have been forced to travel to Lawrence twice a week in the evenings to practice on indoor courts.

Head coach Rick Walsh said the team has not let the weather affect its effort in practicing for the season.

“The kids are trying hard and trying to take care of themselves,” Walsh said.

The men’s team only has seven members, but Walsh believes the team has plenty of talent.

“There’s no true No. 1,” Walsh said. “The strength of balance will keep us in a lot of matches. I’m looking for good results from that.”

Junior Hunter Hollarn believes the men’s team has the ability to compete very successfully in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

“I think that we definitely have a good shot of finishing in the top two in the (HAAC),” Hollarn said.

The women’s team will also have seven players, four of which are seniors.

“I think with the help of their leadership, we can compete at a high level in the conference,” Walsh said.

Flanigan said the team expects to finish very high at tournaments on a weekly basis.

“I think we have high expectations of ourselves,” Flanigan said. “We have a lot of confidence.”

The tennis tournament schedule will be a challenge with 12 away tournaments and only three in Baldwin City.

“There are a lot of opportunities to have the kids determine what their level is,” Walsh said. “I’m looking forward to the season.”

Hollarn said several new members are making a positive impact on the men’s side.

“We have a couple of freshmen that proved themselves in the fall,” Hollarn said.

He stated that winning doubles matches will greatly aid the team’s chances in competing and thus will be a focus for the team.

“We really need the doubles points,” he said. “We lacked them last year.”

Walsh came to Baker last August and feels being a graduate and a tennis player for Baker makes being the head coach a special opportunity.

“It’s a very unique experience,” Walsh said. “I can make contributions because of my experience here at Baker.”

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