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Ellinwood tennis team stands out among schools past teams
spt kp Ellinwood tennis
The Ellinwood High School girls tennis team poses with the Class 3-1A regional meet championship plaque on Saturday. From left, Rachel Morales, Gentry McLeland, Kaitlyn Robl, Bailey Schartz, Darri Beckwith and Oma Thomas. Back row, from left, head coach Lyle Stickney and Brad Birzer. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Teams like the Ellinwood High School girls’ tennis squad are rare.
Just ask Eagles head coach Lyle Stickney. In more than two decades of coaching at Ellinwood, he said that he can only recall two or three teams that parallels the 2011 varsity team that will be competing at the Class 3-1A state meet in Dodge City on Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve been coaching for 22 or 23 years now, and there have been a few teams that have come along with this much talent,” Stickney said. “There was a team in the mid-’90s and then in ’04. Then there is this one.”
The main difference between the teams is that this one has solid singles players, as well as doubles.
“We have usually been pretty strong in doubles players at Ellinwood over the years,” Stickney said. “This year, I have a very good feeling about our singles players this year.”
The similarity? Each of these teams have competitors on them.
“I would say the one similarity is that each of these teams that I’m thinking about are all fierce competitors,” Stickney said. “They all love to win and hate to lose. They were gluttons for tennis instruction, and as a coach, they are just the type of players that you love to have on your team.”
This team consists of five seniors — Bailey Schartz, Darrien Beckwith, Rachel Morales, Gentry McLeland and Kaitlyn Robl.
Oma Thomas is the lone junior.
“It really started for this group a couple of years ago when they were sophomores,” Stickney said. “Most of these girls have been playing varsity for several years. Five of the six girls have been to state. Bailey was the first one to make it to state all four years.”
Schartz holds the Ellinwood record for most matches won with a career record of 122-15. Beckwith is fourth on the list at 115-24.