A promising future

After 24 years of coaching girls high school tennis at Fredonia, it was only fitting Mike Hirschbeck’s final match was at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.

It was a destination he had never been to before and freshman Georgie Gens was the one to give him that experience.

“It was certainly nice for me to go, with this being my last year,” Hirschbeck said.

Aside from Chautauqua Lake, Hirschbeck can’t remember a singles player advancing to the state tournament in more than 20 years.

“I know how hard it is when you get to Buffalo for Sectionals,” Hirschbeck said. “We (look at) the county tournament as being or Sectionals. ECIC brings eight players. The Niagara Frontier League and (CCAA) bring four players. In the first round, we always play ECIC and they are really good players.”

Gens had an impressive regular season as she went undefeated at first singles.

At the County meet, Gens fell to Southwestern’s Morgan Johnson, but qualified for Sectionals as the No. 4 seed. At Sectionals, Gens pulled off an upset as she downed No. 2 seed Gillian Wittig of Depew, 6-1, 6-1. She then defeated Southwestern’s Heidi Mueller, 6-1, 6-3 to make it to the semifinals. There, Gens fell to Clarence’s Nicole Kozinski, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

With the top three players advancing to the state tournament, Gens was placed in the consolation match against Hamburg’s Leighanna Hewes. Gens was victorious, 6-3, 6-1 for the final spot into the state finals.

“When you get up to Buffalo, it’s pretty hard,” Hirschbeck said. “That consolation match, when you lose in the semifinals, that consolation match is a stressful match. The loser goes home. That’s a pretty tough match. I think she is pretty focused for a ninth grade kid.”

At the state meet, Gens lost both matches, but with three more years of high school tennis ahead of her, it was a valuable learning experience.

“I think she learned a lot playing there,” Hirschbeck said. “The competition is so much stronger. I think she has a sense of what she needs to do to improve her game. She is a young kid who really works at improving her game. And I think her mom helps her improve her game.”