Women’s Tennis News Archive 2014-2015

Women’s Tennis additions look bright

Second-year Hesston College Women’s Tennis coach, Myron Diener, is excited about the new additions to the spring roster. Diener is borrowing freshman Brooke Hershberger (Goshen, Ind.) and sophomore Dusti Diener (Harrisonville, Mo.) from two other Hesston sports teams to fill out his team. Hershberger played volleyball in the fall and Diener, Myron’s daughter, played soccer in the fall.

“They’re actually really solid tennis players,” Diener said. “They both have very stable games and I see a lot of upside to both of them. I’m optimistic that they could have a reasonably good season.”

Diener is thinking positively for his women’s team. He’s shooting to be .500 for the season and believes the team’s hard work and dedication will help achieve this.

“Five of my ten have never played in a competitive tennis match before,” Diener said. “Really gutsy for the girls. They’re motivated. They seem to embrace the sport and they’ve been working hard.”

The Larks kick off the new season at 9 a.m. against Southwestern Christian University (Bethany, Okla.) on Tuesday, March 3.

Hesston women drop 7-2 match to Bethany

The Hesston College women’s tennis team hosted Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kan.) on Saturday, April 5, dropping a 7-2 match to the Swedes.

Sophomore Savannah Mitchell (Groveland, Ill.) teamed up with freshman Brett Fair (Topeka, Kan.) to take one doubles at 8-5. Mitchell then won at one singles by the same score. Sophomores Victoria Kropf (Monroe, Ore.) and Sierra Wyse (Mt. Pleasant, Iowa) kept their singles matches close, staying on serve till 5-6 where they dropped their final two games and the match.

Hesston hosts Cowley College (Arkansas City, Kan.) at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 7.

Hesston records 6-3 win over Central Christian

The Hesston College women’s tennis team defeated Central Christian College (McPherson, Kan.) 6-3 on Wednesday, April 2 for its first win of the year.

Freshmen Brett Fair (Topeka, Kan.) and Elisabeth Wilder (Hesston, Kan.) recorded impressive straight set wins (two singles: 6 -3, 6-1) and (three singles: 6-1, 6-0) respectively. Sophomores Savannah Mitchell (Lindsborg, Kan.) and Sierra Wyse (Mt. Pleasant, Iowa) fought back after each losing their first set to win their matches in third-set super tie-breakers (one singles: 3-6, 7-6, [10-6]) and (six singles: 4-6, 6-3, [10-6]), respectively.

The doubles teams (Mitchell/Fair and Wilder/Morgan Martin [New Holland, Pa.]) each recorded wins, pushing Hesston to six total wins to claim the match victory.

The Hesston women will host Bethany College at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 5.

Larks drop competitive match at Tabor

The Hesston College women’s tennis team dropped a road match to Tabor College (Hillsboro, Kan.) on Thursday, March 27 by a 6-3 count.

Sophomores Samantha Aeschliman (Lindsborg, Kan.) and Savannah Mitchell (Groveland, Ill.) came out with a 9-7 win at one doubles. Freshman Brett Fair (Topeka, Kan.) completed an impressive straight sets win at two singles (6-3, 7-5),  while freshman Elisabeth Wilder (Hesston, Kan.) outlasted her opponent in a tight (6-2, 4-6 [10-7]) 3rd set super tie-breaker.

The Hesston women host Seward County CC (Liberal, Kan.) in a Region VI match at noon on Saturday, March 29.

Women’s Tennis anticipates 2014 season

First-year Hesston College Women’s Tennis coach Myron Diener points to returners Samantha Aeschliman (Lindsborg, Kan.), Narumi Hayano (Kiyosu-Shi, Aichi-ken, Japan) and Savannah Mitchell (Groveland, Ill.) as veteran leaders for the upcoming season. Freshmen Brett Fair (Topeka, Kan.) and Victoria Kropf (Monroe, Ore.) give the Larks added talent.

“I was pleased with the effort the team put forth during the off-season by getting out to the courts several days per week,” Diener said. “This will certainly pay off as we get into the competitive portion of the season. We will be challenged this spring with mostly four-year schools on the schedule.  We are excited to host six home matches this spring.”

The Larks kick off the new season with a 1 p.m. home match with Colorado Christian University on Sunday, March 2.

“I am honored to return to this setting that I experienced 35 years ago,” Diener said. “To have an influence on a group of students who have chosen my classroom – the tennis court – is a blessing.”

Hesston College Women’s Tennis welcomes Topeka (Kan.) West High grad to 2013 roster

Hesston College Women’s Tennis Coach Myron Diener announces Brett Fair, a recent Topeka (Kan.) West High School graduate, as the newest addition to the Larks program.

One of only two female members of the 100-Win Club in the history of Topeka West High Tennis, Fair recorded 101 career wins during four state tournament-qualifying seasons.  A two-time state medaler, Fair was a key member of a Topeka West High team that finished fourth at the 2013 state tournament.

An All-State Academic All-Star and four-year honor roll member, Fair will pursue studies towards an animation/film degree.

“We’re pleased to have Brett join our program,” said Hesston coach Myron Diener. “I’m looking forward to her contributions to our team and the broader campus community.”

Fair attends Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene, Topeka, where she is active in youth group, mission trips and vacation bible school. She is the daughter of Pam and Glen Fair, Topeka.

Hesston College announces new tennis coach

Hesston College athletic director Joel Kauffman announced the July 16 hiring of Myron Diener, a 1979 Hesston College graduate, as men’s and women’s tennis coach. He will succeed Jeron Baker, who resigned after five years at the helm of Hesston Tennis.

“I’m excited to have Myron as our men’s and women’s tennis coach,” Kauffman said. “He has a passion for tennis and knows the game well. He also has a strong interest in working with and mentoring student athletes.”

“I am honored to return to this setting that I experienced 35 years ago,” Diener said. “To have an influence on a group of students who have chosen my classroom – the tennis court – is a blessing.  The opportunities at Hesston are many – academics, arts, music and sports, to name a few. The students at Hesston are the significant part of a unique experience.

Diener spent the previous 15 years as senior statistician at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Kansas City, Mo. The position with the Larks is his first head coaching job at the college level.

“Certainly all those involved in sports find motivation in the natural competition existing in this venue,” Diener said. “I’m also motivated to see the gradual improvement that an athlete can experience through focused training, hard work and commitment. The result likely will not lead to Wimbledon, but can be evidenced through a higher first serve percentage, lower net clearance, deeper ground strokes, faster foot work, cleaner ball strikes, etc. I’m excited to have the opportunity to influence these improvements and observe the results.”

Coach Diener and his wife, Donna, reside in Hesston. They have two daughters; Kaci ’13 and Dusti, who will enroll at Hesston in August.

Deeper roster key to Hesston Women’s Tennis success in 2013

The Hesston College women’s tennis program takes the court in a few short weeks. Fifth-year coach Jeron Baker is excited about the added team depth and overall talent on the women’s roster.

“We’ve added several key freshmen to a roster that returned the entire recruiting class from a year ago – meaning a deeper and more talented lineup,” Baker said. “Our number one player from last year will likely be at three or four this year. I think that depth and experience will help us tremendously. We’ll also be much better at doubles.”

As an NJCAA Region VI member, Hesston will once again look forward to a challenging schedule. The Larks open the 2013 slate with an indoor match at Region VI foe Barton Community College (Great Bend, Kan.) at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22. The Larks’ March 21 home match against Ottawa (Kan.) University, beginning at 11 a.m., will be streamed live and is accessible at hesston.edu/larks.

“How we compete in our opener will likely determine the mindset for our team the rest of the season,” Baker added. “Our women are looking to make some good things happen and, if we play up to our ability, will be able to surprise some teams. It’ll be fun to see how the year unfolds.”

Hesston Tennis recognized for 2012 success

As the 2012-13 Hesston College men’s and women’s tennis teams are busy training for a new year, the men’s program received news of a 2011-12 post-season ranking that speaks to the progress the Larks have enjoyed over the past several years.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranked Hesston Tennis 24th in its final 2011-12 rankings, released earlier this summer. When he received word of the recognition, Hesston coach Jeron Baker was thrilled.

“The year-end ranking is a testament to the hard work put in by our entire program last year,” Baker said. “The men specifically received the ranking but we view ourselves as one team. The time and energy put in by all players, both men and women, to challenge each other is what helped us accomplish this milestone. With the strong support we have returning and the new additions to our program, last year’s ceiling could become this year’s floor.”

Baker highlighted three individuals from last year’s squad who stood out, including Taylor Ermoian (Hays, Kan.), Luis Ramirez (Tachira, Venezuela) and local product Michael Oyer (Hesston, Kan.), all returning sophomores who hope to life the Larks to even greater heights this year.

“We only hope to grow from here,” added Baker. “We continue to teach that in all things, not just tennis, there is nothing better than getting better. I’m proud of our team and our institution for supporting each other in the ways we have.”


Aeschliman signs tennis letter at Hesston College

Samantha Aeschliman, a senior at Smoky Valley High School, Lindsborg, Kan., signed a letter of intent to continue her tennis and academic careers at Hesston College.

A four-year varsity points leader at Smoky Valley, Aeschliman was a key member of the 2010 team that finished fifth at the state tournament.

An honor roll student and National Honor Society member, Aeschliman plans to study math education at Hesston.

“Sam comes from a great tennis program at Smoky Valley,” said Hesston coach Jeron Baker. “She has been their points winner all four years. Her talent and skill are dwarfed only by her personality and excitement for life. She will be a perfect fit on campus. I couldn’t be happier about her joining our incredible program.”

Aeschliman is the daughter of Julie Aeschliman, Lindsborg.

Hesston College women’s tennis program filled with new faces

Fourth-year Hesston College women’s tennis coach Jeron Baker will look to a nearly all-freshmen team as another season of tennis awaits.

Joining sophomore Katie Miller (Rio Rancho, N.M.) on this year’s roster are freshmen Kaci Diener (Harrisonville, Mo.), Emma Payne (Pulaski, Iowa), Leah Unruh (Newton, Kan.), Courtney Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) and Erika Wedel (McPherson, Kan.).

“I’m looking forward to seeing what our young players can do,” Baker said. “They’re working hard and enjoying each other. We’re excited to get things started.”

Highlighting the 2012 schedule are several matches against local four-year varsity programs including Bethel College (North Newton), Tabor College (Hillsboro) and McPherson College. Last year’s team recorded three wins against Central Christian College’s (McPherson, Kan.) varsity.

Morton (Ill.) High’s Savannah Mitchell is first Hesston women’s tennis recruit of 2012

Savannah Mitchell, a senior at Morton (Ill.) High School, has signed a letter of intent to continue her tennis and academic careers at Hesston College.

A team MVP in her sophomore year and a co-captain the past two years at Morton High, Mitchell was a key part of her team’s back-to-back Mid-Illini Conference championships in 2008-09. Mitchell also ran track at Morton High.

“Savannah’s maturity and ability to relate to people are some of the things I’m most excited about,” said Hesston coach Jeron Baker. “She will be an instant leader. Her work ethic and potential are high. Savannah will be a terrific asset to our team.”

Mitchell is the daughter of Martin and Victoria Mitchell, Groveland, Ill.


Pair of Hays (Kan.) High seniors sign with Hesston College Tennis

Taylor Ermoian and Whitney Hickert, both seniors at Hays (Kan.) High School, have signed letters of intent to play tennis at Hesston College.

Ermoian is a four-year varsity player for Hays, compiling a 20-13 overall record as a senior. He earned the school’s Most Spirited Athlete Award following his senior year in which he helped Hays to a state tournament berth.

An honor roll student, National Honor Society member and Citizenship Award winner, Ermoian excels in the classroom as well.

“Taylor’s ability to understand the intricacies of the game and ability to structure points make him a valuable asset to the program,” said Hesston coach Jeron Baker. “It’s his personality that excites me the most though. He is the exact type of student we want at Hesston.”

Ermoian is the son of Cheryl Herman and Kyle Ermoian, Hays. He attends Celebration Community Church in Hays and is active in the youth group there.

A varsity letter-winner in tennis and track, Hickert has served as team captain for her tennis team the last two seasons.

Whitney Hickert signs with Hesston Tennis
Whitney Hickert signs with Hesston Tennis

A four-year academic letter recipient at Hays High, Hickert is an honor roll student, National Honor Society member and Athletic Boosters Scholar. She plans to study nursing at Hesston.

“Whitney is the type of player who will instantly become a leader on our team,” Baker said. “She exudes care and compassion for others and will be a great example for all of us. She has a high athletic ceiling, and with more specific tennis instruction there’s no telling how good she can be.”

Hickert is the daughter of Kevin and Sondra Hickert, Hays. She attends Liberty Christian Fellowship Church in Hays.

Coach enjoys players’ growth alongside that of his program

It started with an email. On one end of the conversation was an athletic director eager to find the right person to breathe new life into a college tennis program. On the other was a former college tennis player eager to return to his alma mater and pass on the positive experience he had there to future students. The program had been dormant for a year, and the college was interested in finding the right person who had the energy, passion and skill to resurrect the program.

Jeron Baker, currently in his third year at the helm of the Hesston College tennis program, was the recipient of that email written by Art Mullet, Hesston’s long-time athletic director. Two months after that initial contact – which had been encouraged by current Hesston faculty Jen LeFevre, Baker’s tennis coach at Hesston – Baker returned to the Hesston campus to interview for the position. By day’s end, the job was his.

Now, three years later, it’s evident that Baker’s players are experiencing the same personal growth he did, all the while playing lead roles in the rebuilding effort that has stabilized Hesston College Tennis.

“When we were looking for a new tennis coach, I immediately thought of Jeron,” Lefevre said. “I knew we needed someone with a solid knowledge of the game as well as a passion for the sport. Jeron is a great recruiter; he’s very relational and is a natural at connecting with people.  I’ve enjoyed watching him continue to grow into his role as tennis coach and really strengthen the program.”

Baker saw the tremendous opportunity in the chance to come back to his alma mater and resurrect a program for which he deeply cared. He immediately felt ownership in the call to mentor young players and watch them grow. As the result of his efforts, the program grew, too.

“When offered the chance to not only return to Hesston, but be involved with tennis, my first instinct was to jump on it immediately,” Baker said. “Being able to relate to Hesston students and utilize my abilities to impact their lives was the ultimate opportunity for me.”

Sophomore Adam Weaver, Hesston, Kan., describes Baker as a tremendous motivator; someone who has a pulse on the physical and mental needs of his players.

“Jeron is aware of our lives outside of tennis,” Weaver said. “He’ll often stop me on campus and ask what my day’s been like and if I’m feeling ready to play that day. On the court he’s helped me maintain my focus and intensity. There’s hardly a drill where he’s not jumping in and teaching right beside us.”

A chemistry major whose involvements on campus include being a lab assistant and resident assistant, not to mention his time with the tennis and soccer programs, Weaver played the best tennis of his life this spring, according to Baker.

“Adam has been just amazing this year,” Baker said. “It’s rewarding to see players’ successes and growth throughout their time here. He’s been a big part of our program.”
Weaver wasn’t the only player to experience success this season.

During a late-March, early-April stretch, the men’s team notched three consecutive victories over local four-year varsity tennis programs in Friends University, Wichita, Southwestern College, Winfield, and Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina.

The women’s team enjoyed their share of success, too, earning three wins over Central Christian College, McPherson, Kan., also a four-year varsity program.

“I hadn’t planned on playing tennis in college,” said freshman Alyssa Horst, Orrville, Ohio, who came to Hesston initially to play volleyball. “Getting to know Jeron throughout the year got me interested in giving it a shot. He has a different style of coaching that I’ve never experienced before. He’s very intense and energetic. He motivates us, stays positive and just doesn’t tolerate negativity.”

In the end, after the final game of the final match has been played, it’s the overall college experience of his players that Baker is most interested in. This mindset has, in turn, led to new heights for the Hesston College tennis program.

“My personal Hesston experience wasn’t defined by tennis, but was highly influenced by it,” Baker said. “I loved my time at Hesston and the relationships that existed. Looking back, tennis was a small sample of the larger model that existed for me there.”

“I’m looking forward to being a sophomore next year and getting to know an entirely new incoming class of students, which is basically half the student body,” Horst said. “It’ll be a great new start to another great year.”