After an 8-5 season last year, South Putnam tennis coach Johnnie Briones knew he would have a good team this year, but even he is a little surprised at how hot they've come out of the gate this year.
"They're all doing so well -- varsity and JV," Briones said. "I told them at the beginning of the season, 'We're going to play hard. We're going to be aggressive. We're going to have some fun.' That's what they're doing."
The coach has especially seen a change on the aggression front.
"In the past, they've been afraid to hit that put-away shot. Now they're hitting the ball with more confidence," Briones said.
In singles, the Eagles made quick work of the Mustangs, dropping just three games. Chelsea Clark won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Number two Whitney Warren won 6-0, 6-0. Liz Mink won 6-1, 6-0 at number three.
Coming into the match, Briones expressed being a little anxious about his doubles teams, as he had switched his two teams' positions.
"At the start of the season, they were just back-and-forth in challenge matches," Briones said. "Right now, it's in their hands who wants that spot."
"I think it went well. The pair that went up to the number one spot stepped up and played really well," Briones said.
The day was especially exciting for Criss, as she and Davis picked up the victory in their new spot on her 18th birthday.
At No. 2 doubles, Sam Callahan and Megan Klotz had the closest varsity match of the day, but still won with a solid 6-3, 6-3 performance.
"Megan Klotz is doing a good job of tweaking her game. It's a new partner for Sam Callahan, but they're working out the bugs," Briones said.
For the junior varsity, Tabitha Arnold and Patty Rodriguez picked up singles wins. Kendra Latham fell in her JV match.
For the doubles, Kyley Brown and Kaitlynn Nissen were victorious. So were Jessica Minor and Abbie Trauner, who beat the Mustangs' top varsity team in a hotly contested junior varsity match.
"I'm really proud of the JV. They're working hard and playing well," Briones said.
The coach sees a good combination of confidence and hunger from all of his players.
"The girls are feeling good and it makes the confidence level go up," Briones commented. "They're really pushing themselves. They step off the court thinking they could have done a little better."
As the Eagles try to keep their hot start going, they will have their next challenge from Southmont. It's a match Briones said he is looking forward to, as it should be a good match.
The Eagles host the Mounties at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
At South Putnam
South Putnam 5, Edgewood 0
Singles -- Clark (SP) def. O'Malley (E) 6-1, 6-1. Warren (SP) def. Douglas (E) 6-0, 6-0. Mink (SP) def. Schlichting (E) 6-1, 6-0.
Doubles -- Davis/Criss (SP) def. Wright/Horne (E) 6-1, 6-0. Callahan/Klotz (SP) def. Weber/McNeely (E) 6-3, 6-3.
South Putnam 4, Edgewood 1
Singles -- Arnold (SP) def. Purtlebaugh (E) 8-0. Rodriguez (SP) def. Purtlebaugh 8-2. Porter (E) def. Latham (SP) 6-3.
Doubles -- Brown/Nissen (SP) def. Porter/McPike (E) 8-2. Minor/Trauner (SP) def. Wright/Horne (E).
Next match -- South Putnam (4-0, 1-0 WCC) hosts Southmont at 4:30 p.m. Monday.