Wellington girls' tennis team signals start of 2021-22 sports season with early Monday practice

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
Two Wellington tennis players high five each other after a set

On a bright and early Monday morning, the Wellington girls' tennis team signaled the start of the 2021-22 high school sport's seasons for the Crusaders. 

Monday, Aug. 16 is the first day where teams are permitted to begin practicing for all sports and activities. Most schools in Kansas had to wait until after school to begin their practice, however, the Wellington School District doesn't start school until Tuesday, Aug 17. 

This gave the Wellington tennis team the opportunity to start their season at 7 a.m. 

The Crusaders will be a young team this season. Wellington returns four players to their varsity team from last year. Those four returners didn't qualify last year, but junior Jensen Lynnes qualified for state as a freshman in 2019. 

Jensen and sophomore Lyric Cornejo would have qualified for the State 4A Tournament in a normal year, but due to COVID-19 precautions, only the top-4 qualified.

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This year the Crusaders will have 21 players on their roster. The majority of the roster comes from the junior class with nine tennis players, then six sophomores, three seniors, and three freshmen. 

The league will be extremely tough for the Crusaders. Collegiate and McPherson are expected to lead the way, but Wellington has their goal of getting into the top-4 in their league. 

"We need to compete and play our best," said Wellington head coach Brain Aufdengarten. "This is going to be a tough league with a lot of tough meets. If you're having a bad day, but your teammate is having a great day, you still need to compete. If you can pull off just one victory, that can give us points in a tournament and help the team."

Last season, the Crusaders had Rylee Rusk and Calli Hatfield qualify for the State 4A Tournament after placing fourth in regionals. The two would place sixth at the State 4A Tournament to end their career at Wellington, due to graduation.

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As a team, Wellington tied for eighth in the 2020 State 4A Tournament.

This will be the first time since 2003 that Wellington will not return a state qualifier from the previous year.