Boys tennis ranked high in 5A

Senior+Jonah+Schloneger+jumps+in+order+to+hit+the+tennis+ball+while+sophomore+Justin+Franz+prepares+for+his+next+strike.

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Senior Jonah Schloneger jumps in order to hit the tennis ball while sophomore Justin Franz prepares for his next strike.

Lucy Buller, Reporter

After a cancelled season last year due to COVID-19, the NHS varsity boys tennis team has already accomplished several major achievements this season. Senior Jonah Schloneger won his first varsity singles tournament on Saturday, Apr. 24 in Valley Center. 

“It was a long time coming. It also felt very gratifying to place top 10 in Ark City the other week, which is one of the hardest meets of the year,” Schloneger said. “My doubles partner and I have played some solid tennis this year and I am excited to see what we can do in the postseason. When our team plays at our best, we are very hard to beat. We have all of the ability that we need to get a state trophy this year, we just have to go get it.”

The team doing well at the Ark City meet led to another big achievement, placing them in the top five teams for 5A high schools in the state. According to Schloneger, near the beginning of the season the team fell out of the 5A rankings entirely but after beating Bishop Carroll, the fourth ranked team in the state, in Ark City, Newton was pushed into the top five. Since the meet however, the team has fluctuated rankings and is currently ranked at sixth for Kansas 5A. Schloneger hopes that more attention will be brought to the team now that they have been recognized as one of the most successful high school teams in the state. Schloneger’s doubles partner, sophomore Justin Franz, has also been happy with the success of the team and is looking forward to the rest of the season. 

“One of my goals is to place well at regionals and make it to state. I think the goal for our team is for everyone to get to state and get a team medal at state,” Franz said. “My favorite part of the season is definitely the all day meets when we leave before school starts and get home as the sun is down. I love to see everyone including myself grow as tennis players. Everyone has made huge improvements this year and we are not done yet.”

Missing a year of competition because of COVID-19 could have been detrimental to the team but according to head coach Nick Sisson, almost all of the boys put in work throughout the summer in order to make up for the disappointment of losing their previous season. 

“The team has been working really hard this season to improve, but our success truly stems from all the work they put in prior to the season, through summer clinics and lessons in Wichita for a few of the guys. We are currently ranked sixth in 5A, but have moved between fifth and seventh,” Sisson said. “There are several really good teams out there who have many more resources for training and improving than we have here in Newton. We took sixth at the 16 team event in Ark City. That meet had eight of the best teams in the state, across all classifications.”

The varsity team won meets in Valley Center and Hesston recently and has placed second or third in all other meets except for one. Schloneger says that both the varsity doubles teams and singles players have been very strong so far this season. 

“Our two doubles teams have records of 18-5 and 16-8 and have placed among the top teams at every tournament so far. Our two singles players placed in the top half of competitors for our first three meets and have continued to improve,” Schloneger said. “We have a full squad of six guys this year and our depth will help us in the coming postseason. We are hoping to get both of our doubles teams in the top eight finishers at state and finish with at least one state singles medal.”

Both the varsity and JV teams have started the season in a stronger position than past years due to the fact that every player on the team is a returning tennis player. According to Sisson, the team set a goal to be top two in the 5A league, and top three at the state tournament. As four out of the six varsity players are seniors, their final high school season is nearing its end and they can start looking towards possible college tennis careers.

“I am committed to play tennis at Friends University next fall. I am excited to keep my journey of playing tennis alive and keep improving as a player,” Schloneger said. “I know that tennis will always be an important part of my life and I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to play this sport.”

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