Playing together most of the season has helped the girls tennis doubles team of Becky Faber and Emma Heyen develop rapport that has been vital to their on-court success on behalf of Hillsboro High School.
“It helps us read each other better when we play more often,” Faber said.
Heyen agreed that practicing and playing together improved her ability to predict how Faber would play.
“I definitely know sometimes where Becky is going to hit it,” she said.
At a recent tournament, coach Bob Woelk said there was a visible difference in the way a doubles team with chemistry plays contrasted to an ad hoc team. On an experienced team, players instinctively know where they and their partners should be.
“A truly great pairing needs to work as a team and believe in each other,” he said. “If they like each other off the court, that helps even more.”
Playing together regularly also improves Faber and Heyen’s motivation. Both said they feel an obligation to each other to play well.
“If I mess up, I’m not just affecting myself,” Faber said. “I’m affecting Emma.”
Heyen echoed Faber’s sentiments.
“I never want to let Becky down,” she said.
Heyen said she and Faber have playing styles that complement each other well. Playing the baseline is Faber’s strength, while Heyen’s height at 6 feet gives her an advantage at the net.
The No. 2 doubles team of Elise Heyen and Courtney Weber has also played admirably against top competition. They placed second in the No. 1 doubles bracket at Sterling and fourth in a combined No. 1 and No. 2 doubles bracket at Smoky Valley.
“I have seen the No. 2 team dominate at times,” Woelk said. “If we can become a bit tougher mentally — regain our focus quickly after a bad point or game — we have a shot.
“Courtney is a steady baseline player and has hit some tremendously athletic shots. Elise has catlike reactions at the net.”
The Trojans travel Friday and Saturday to Genesis Tennis Center, 1551 N. Rock Road, Wichita, for regionals. Other teams in the tournament include Douglass, Ellsworth, Hutchinson Trinity, Lyons, Neodesha, St. Mary’s Colgan, Sacred Heart, Sterling, Wichita Collegiate, and Wichita Independent.
The top six finishers in singles and doubles will advance to the state tournament Oct. 15 and 16 in Wichita. The regional tournament doesn’t separate No. 1 and No. 2 entrants.