Suffice to say, the Great Bend High School boys’ tennis team is a work in progress. Only one senior, who is coming out for the first time this spring, is on the Panthers’ roster.
The remainder of the roster is filled with juniors, sophomores and freshmen, giving GBHS one of its most youthful groups in recent memory.
“We’re very young and inexperienced,” said longtime Great Bend head coach Shannon Shartz, who has also taught tennis lessons for 40 years. “Basically, I expect us to be average to current, and we should keep improving throughout the spring.
“We have a lot to learn yet, but we have some kids with some skills.”
The Panthers’ scheduled season-opening matches at McPherson were postponed on Monday because of the inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. at the same locale, a prelude to the Great Bend Invitational on Saturday. The start time for those matches is 9 a.m. The opposition includes Western Athletic Conference foes Dodge City, Liberal and Garden City, along with area teams from Ellinwood and Hoisington.
Noel Rodriguez, a junior, is currently the No. 1 singles player for the Panthers, while junior Ramon Garcia is the No. 2 singles guy.
In No. 1 doubles, sophomores Austin Jacobs and Nick Moyers currently hold down that spot. The No. 2 doubles team consists of sophomores Adam Neeland and Ky Heeke.
Without question, those positions are not written in stone. Schartz said the lineups could change down the road if others emerge.
“I think we’re going to struggle early and hopefully, get better during the year,” Schartz said. “We’ve improved a lot over last year, but we have a long ways to go.
“We’ve got some people that have some good skills and they’re pretty good athletes. They haven’t put it together where they’re consistently where they can make a good shot.”
As of now, the Panthers don’t have a booming-type of server.
“We don’t have anyone that has an overpowering serve,” Schartz said. “We have several that have a nice kick-serve, which is a slower-paced serve with a lot of spin on it that kicks off to the side.
“Noel and Ramon both have fairly hard serves, but nothing that they can really dominate. (Their) maturity level and their focus needs to be better.
“They can get to a point where they’re easily distracted.”
The lone senior is none other than Greg Hildebrand, the quarterback on the Panthers’ Class 5A state playoff football team in the fall who also was the team’s leading scorer in basketball during the winter.
Hildebrand, currently on the junior varsity, brings athleticism to the squad, although he’s never played tennis competitively.
Schartz’s assistants are Barbie Harris and Zac Bartel.
Great Bend High School
2011 tennis schedule
Friday — At McPherson, 3 p.m.
Saturday — GREAT BEND INVITATIONAL, 9 a.m.
April 5 — At Buhler, 3 p.m.
April 11 — At Hays, 1 p.m.
April 21 — At Dodge City, 3 p.m.
April 23 — At Garden City, 9 a.m.
May 2 — At WAC (Dodge City host), 4 p.m.
May 6 — Class 5A Regional, TBA
May 13 — Class 5A State Tournament, TBA
HOME MATCH IN ALL CAPS
Eduardo Aguilera, soph.; Jonathan Baker, soph; Jesus Balderama, soph.; Daniel Banda, soph.; Marcos Barragan, junior; Jun Rui Chen, fresh., Allan Michael Clark, junior; Ryan Clark, fresh; Jacob Crane, fresh.; Alex Freund, junior; Ivan Galindo, fresh.; Ramon Garcia, fresh.; Isalas Gonzalez, fresh.; Ky Heeke, soph.; Greg Hildebrand, senior; Austin Jacobs, soph.; Justin Kuhlman, fresh.; Elena Lewis, junior; Jermaine Lopez, fresh.; Daniel Marshall, fresh.; Peter Marston, soph.; Jose Mijarres, soph.; Sergio Montes, junior; Nick Moyers, soph.; Adam Neeland, soph.; Miguel Ramirez, soph.; Raul Rivas, junior; Noel Rodriguez, junior; Manuel Velazquez, fresh.