By Robert Faulk
Haley Hibbets, an 8th grader at Waller Middle School, recently won the #1 Singles division of the Oklahoma State Jr. High Tennis Championship held at Tulsa Union High School. The Enid Public Schools Jr. High (7th, 8th and 9th grade) tennis team qualified for the State Tournament in the last tournament of the year at Shawnee. The team was led all year by Haley, as the #1 singles player.
Haley had 20 wins and four losses in school matches this spring, with three of her losses coming against the same girl, Tokara Henderson, one of the top-ranked girls in the state. In six Jr. High tournaments, she finished 3rd once, 2nd three times, and won two tournaments, including the State Championship.
Speaking of the State Championship, Haley said “I was really proud of myself for winning State. I have been working really hard on technique which has helped me improve and win close matches. The semifinals were especially tough because I played a girl that beat me in our previous matchup. I was nervous going in, but after the match started, the nerves went away and I was able to pull it out in the 3rd set.”
Through the support of her parents, Haley is able to have two very accomplished private coaches, Matt Lopez and Vladica Babic (a past Oklahoma State University Tennis Player) of Oakwood Country Club as well as her Enid Public Schools Jr. High coaches Dusty Quarles and Nina Gregory. She practices with the Jr. High team and also puts in a lot of extra practice with her private coaches via clinics, strength and conditioning training, and footwork clinics. Coach Quarles had this to say about Haley: “Haley is such a competitor. She puts in the work every day, which is evident in her success. She has a very bright future ahead of her and that extends beyond just tennis. I’m proud of her and excited to watch her grow as a student-athlete.” Coach Gregory echoes the praise for Haley: “Haley is one of the most hard working, dedicated and humble athletes I’ve had the pleasure to be around. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to be around her and watch her compete this season!” As a true student-athlete, Haley also maintains a 4.0 GPA, is a member of Waller STUCO and the National Jr. Honor Society along with playing softball.
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