Last season Kenton Hallowell and Jake Seaton wanted to be singles players for the Manhattan High boys’ tennis team.
But as the season progressed, they became a doubles pair and advanced to the state tournament after a solid showing at regionals.
This time around, new head coach Chuck Kipp said they will play singles for the team, and he expects them both to find success.
“We should do very well in Centennial League and hopefully regionals and I can see both of those players making it to state this year,” he said. “And that depends on regional draws of course, but they are both playing pretty well.”
Kipp said Hallowell, a senior, will hold down the No. 1 spot, while Seaton, a junior, will settle in as the No. 2.
The coach said they have both shown their skills on the court in practice, as well as skills off the court with their teammates.
“They are helping out quite a bit as leaders,” Kipp said. “They work with the others and encourage and challenge them, and it’s always nice to have juniors and seniors that are like coaches on the court. Even though it’s an individual sport, we are still a team.”
The rest of the varsity group to start the season will be JT Turnley and Riley Ratliff, a likely doubles pair, as well as Sam Hong, Dustin Hayes, Claib Harris and Sam Rozell.
The Indians open play on Tuesday at Washburn Rural, but a doubles tournament in Salina on Saturday will offer the team a chance to get plenty of views at the doubles players.
“We really haven’t seen these pairings before, so we are kind of mixing it up,” Kipp said. “Tuesday will give us a little bit of an idea of where we are and then we follow up with a purely doubles tournament in Salina. It gives us an opportunity to see different pairings and the dynamics between different players.”
Kipp said he has enjoyed moving up to the head coach job this season, after spending time with the program as an assistant to Bob Kelly.
“I’m from Manhattan and played Manhattan High tennis, and it’s been interesting because the head coach has to focus on fewer players, but at a higher level of play,” he said.
“The assistant gets to work with more diverse levels of play and bigger groups, but the varsity team works with higher level players.”
Kipp said one of the biggest challenges so far has been just practicing with the team, and taking on some of the players.
“It has physically been a challenge for me,” he said. “I’m getting older and it’s hard to be out on the court with better, younger players. It really forces me to get out there on a high-level.”
The Indians will play at home for the first time this season on April 10, when they take on Junction City and Highland Park at City Park.