The Paonia girls may be shy of a complete team this season, but the players who did make the commitment bring experience, talent and a love for the game to the court.
Two senior players are especially dedicated to the game.
Seniors Tyler Rapke and Annavah Kropp plan to play tennis for as long as they live. Two summers ago, the duo competed in doubles at the annual Taco Bell tournament in Grand Junction, and won almost all their doubles matches.That got them thinking: If they could play as a 1 doubles team for Paonia, they might have a shot at placing at regionals and qualifying for state.
"We've always wanted to be the first players from Paonia to make it to state and we always thought that that would be the way to do it," said Rapke, who started her junior year at 2 singles before a foot injury forced her to quit for the season. She's back now and playing as well as ever. "We have so much fun when we play together."
Not so fast. In Colorado high school tennis there are two classes: 4A and 5A.
That bit of information means that small schools like 2A Paonia have to compete against the bigger schools, some of which have year-round facilities and professional coaches. But under Colorado High School Activities Association rules, the best player on the team MUST play at 1 singles, the second-best at 2 singles, and so on.
At the start of their junior year, Kropp was the best player on the team, and Rapke had quickly moved up from doubles to 2 singles. They regret not ever playing as a doubles team their freshman and sophomore years.
"At singles one and two it's pretty impossible to make it to state," said Kropp, who grew up in a competitive tennis family. Too much competition from schools like Aspen and Steamboat Springs. "It'd be cool to make it to state our senior year. It's a far-fetched goal, but..."
Under head coach Kyle Banks, the Eagles played their first matches against Delta. Last week they faced Fruita Monument and Montezuma-Cortez. Rosa Medina, Heather Wilczek, Nichelle Feryanitz, Kimmy Gillenwater, Jesse Holt, Jeze Fabijanic and Lexi Johnson round out the roster, and Banks was still working out doubles teams late last week to determine where everyone will fit in for the season.
Rapke and Kropp are surprised that Paonia doesn't have a full team. "We're trying to recruit people," said Rapke.
A great thing about tennis, said Kropp, "is that it's easy to improve quickly and really have fun with the sport." All one needs is a little coordination and a racquet.
Tennis is a pay-to-play sport and the team is looking for business and individual sponsors to help pay for equipment, gear bags and tennis balls, all of which are now paid for by the team.
Potential sponsors can contact Paonia High School for more information.blog comments powered by Disqus