What makes Ballard's Regen Halsne a potential state qualifier in girls tennis

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Ballard senior Regen Halsne has the potential to qualify for state in girls tennis as either a singles or doubles player.

Last season was a bit stressful for Regen Halsne.

Halsne took over the No. 1 singles spot for a Ballard girls tennis team steeped in tradition as one of the best programs in central Iowa. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking away her sophomore season Halsne had never played varsity before the 2021 season.

Halsne went through a baptism by fire on the tennis court. But she emerged from the smoke a legit force at the net, qualifying for state with teammate Brynna Huen in doubles play.

Huen has since graduated, but Halsne has taken the bull by the horns in singles play and formed a quality No. 1 doubles team with Gracie Ross. She's shown the potential to qualify for state in either singles or doubles play during her senior year.

"It's been a pretty good year," Halsne said. "I'm going out with no regrets."

Halsne is 4-1 in the No. 1 singles spot for Ballard this year. Her only loss was to Pella's Emily Blom in a three-set thriller that saw Blom win the super-tiebreaker by an 11-9 score.

Blom was a Class 1A state qualifier in singles play last year.

In doubles play Halsne is 4-3. She's 3-2 with current doubles partner Ross.

"Her growth from last season to this year has been awesome," Ballard head coach Jen Dovre said. "Last year being in the No. 1 spot she didn't know if she was up to that spot. This year she is embracing that. Confidence is really important in that No. 1 spot and she's grown a ton in that way." 

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Halsne's four singles victories have come against Clarke's Alivia Bakley (10-2), North Polk's Whitney Larson (6-1 and 6-0), Saydel's Grace Peck (6-2 and 6-2) and Boone's Morgan Kathman (6-2 and 6-3). Kathman was a state singles qualifier last year.

"It's a little better this year," Halsne said. "I feel like I'm supposed to be there, not shoved in there because everyone else graduated."

She admits to being nervous at the start of the season.  

"It's been a little scary," Halsne said. "You see those people you played last year and you're worried if they've improved more than I have."

But it didn't take long for Halsne to start finding some confidence.

"I have improved a lot," Halsne said. "I've challenged some people and I'm still there." 

Patience and accuracy have been the big keys for Halsne in 2022.

"I'm making sure I can hit it where I want to and not just as hard as I want to," Halsne said.  "I've been working a lot on my top spin. It's the little things that help make up the big part of what you play and how you play it." 

Halsne credit's Dovre for helping her develop into a legit No. 1 singles player for the Bombers.

"She's made a really big impact," Halsne said. "As a coach that's what you're supposed to do, but she's had the biggest impact on me out of everyone." 

In doubles play Halsne and Ross are starting to settle into that No. 1 spot.

"Her and Brynna worked really well together," Ross said. "It's kind of hard to live up to that." 

Regen Halsne and Gracie Ross are 3-2 in doubles competition this year for Ballard.

Ross is a junior. She said Halsne has been the perfect partner for her as she gets accustomed to varsity play.

"She has good aim and her slice is really good," Ross said. "I have decent lobs in the back and she's good at the net for when I make a mistake. If I make a mistake she's not going to be mad at me — she's going to save my butt." 

Halsne gets more comfortable out on the court each meet. She enjoys all of the support she's received from her teammates, coaches and the Ballard community. 

"I love the people and playing with everybody," Halsne said. "I love what you feel when you win a game and you look over and see all of those people cheering you."

Halsne plans on attending DMACC next year. She said she will pursue club tennis.

For now she's focused on finishing her senior season strong. Dovre said Halsne has improved her shot variety and is really starting to trust her shots more.

If everything comes together and she stays healthy Halsne has an excellent shot at returning to state. Exactly where she'll be playing has yet to be determined.

"We're still trying to figure out if she wants to go doubles or singles," Dovre said. "She has a heart for doubles, but she's become a great singles player. She's proven she can hang with girls that went to the state tournament last year and beat some of them."