Salina Central has a long and storied tradition of success on the tennis court, and in 2022 that history grew, thanks to a 3rd place finish at the 5A Girls State Tournament last fall.
Mustang Tennis Coach McKenzie Weishaar has helped to restore and build up Central’s tennis prowess in the last few years, and as the team gets set for 2023, things look to be building up once again.
Central will return five of their six State Qualifiers from a season ago, including Senior Janae Montoya, who finished with the bronze medal in the 5A singles bracket last season, as well as both doubles squads made up of Kinsley Foth, and Claire, Addison, and Mallory Renfro.
That amount of high-level roster retention is enough to make any head coach excited, but Coach Weishaar isn’t just excited about those five athletes. Monday afternoon, the Mustangs saw more than 20 student-athletes attend their first practice of the season.
Central has seen growth in athlete turnout in each of her four seasons as coach, and she attributes the team’s recent successes to part of why the sport continues to grow in Salina.
“The girls see how successful they are and how fun it can be, and they want to be a part of something that is so successful,” said Weishaar during the first team practice on Monday afternoon. “That has definitely helped, especially with the younger girls, the incoming freshman classes have been a lot bigger the last couple of years.”
This fall, the Mustangs have a quick turnaround from practice number one to meet day number one, as they’ll open the season with a Junior Varsity Meet on Tuesday, August 22nd at Buhler before the Varsity team gets going on Saturday, August 26th, hosting a Dual Tournament that will include crosstown rival Salina South, as well as Buhler, St. James Academy, and Valley Center, according to the team schedule posted on AVCTL.org.
“It’s tough because we jump into meets next Tuesday,” said Coach Weishaar, speaking on the focus of the first week of practice. “We don’t have a ton of time to map out what we have. Tennis, as much of an individual sport as it is, the girls put in a lot of work in the off season and this first couple weeks, it’s seeing what we have doubles wise, singles wise, just who fits well together and we kind of just play it by ear, hopping right in next week!”
Varsity wise, the Mustangs do retain much of their production from a successful 2022, but with a new year comes some adjustment, and Coach Weishaar wasn’t shy about trying new pairings and switching things up, if it meant her team could make bigger strides this fall.
“That’s something that we are looking at this week… seeing what we have,” said Weishaar. “We were so strong last year, so we would be super solid if we kept things the way they are, but trying to fill that other singles spot, we’re going to look at some different things and see how things go.”
The Mustangs will have a great opportunity to contend for a State Title this fall, and could even do so right here in town, as the 2023 5A State Tournament is set to be held at the brand new Salina Tennis Alliance courts, just north of the Tony’s Pizza Event Center.
“I grew up playing tennis and we never had anything like that, so seeing that as an opportunity for the young kids is great,” said Weishaar. “I work at South Middle School and seeing how many more kids are interested in tennis than before makes me super hopeful in the future of tennis in the community.”
Mustang fans can stay updated on the Salina Central tennis program all fall, as results will be posted periodically on KSAL.com and Head Coach McKenzie Weishaar will be featured in regular interviews on 1150 KSAL and 106.7 FM.