Even though the 2019 Polson tennis season has not begun, players have been doing off-season practice for months. According to Bob Hislop, the team’s head coach, “Fall is the only time we don’t play much tennis. Our players did [over] 680 hours of lessons last summer. We started winter tennis in November by going to the Summit in Kalispell on Sunday mornings each week.” On any other day, going to the Summit to play tennis can cost up to 20 dollars for one person to play for an hour. However, every Sunday the Summit offers a discount to all the schools in the valley. This gives students and coaches a much more affordable way of practicing tennis in the off-season.
Makauly Morrison practicing his forehand slice for the upcoming season. This was Morrison’s last practice during the summer. Forehand slice is his least favorite stroke.
The other primary source of off-season practice is Michael Sitter’s after school workouts. Every Tuesday, Sitter hosts an agility workout geared towards tennis players in the cafeteria. It starts at 3:40 P.M. and is scheduled to go for half an hour but often lasts longer according to Michael Smith, a regular attendee and member of the tennis team.
“The boys have been hit very hard by graduation the last two years. We will be very young and inexperienced but I like the kids we have.” Hislop has high hopes for the season despite the fact that there will only be one senior boy and one returning state qualifier.
The girls this year are going to be defending state champions. Like the boys, the team will also be very young with only one senior and, “Hopefully a few juniors.” Shea McGuinness will be the lone senior on the girls team. She took first in singles last year at state and plans on doing so again.
“We do all the extra things that we do, [even if it means] going to Kalispell, because you can’t be a top flight program without doing more. We could do more gym tennis in the winter but getting on regular tennis courts is very important. I’m looking forward to a great season with some great kids.”