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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Versatile Eagles squad set to do battle

Saturday, April 11, 2009

South Putnam junior Megan Klotz will move up to No. 1 doubles with teammate Tabitha Arnold for the Eagles this season. [Order this photo]
After having a successful season, coaches always hope to reload more than rebuild for the next season; and for Johnnie Briones' Eagles tennis team that is exactly what it is doing -- reloading.

Briones lost every one off his varsity squad last year, except for junior Megan Klotz, so someone would think that he would have to rebuild his team. But luckily for Briones he had an exceptional junior varsity team that is ready to step into spotlight.

"I'm like the football team," Briones said. "I don't rebuild, I reload.

"And I feel pretty good about this year," he added.

Briones is filling his empty roster with players from his JV team that went 9-4 last year. He is also moving Klotz from the No. 2 doubles spot to the No. 1 for the 2009 season.

"I've got a lot of girls, that when we have our challenge matches, they are so even that they are back and forth with each other," Briones said. "I can pretty much put anybody anywhere."

As of now Abbie Trauner, one of the four seniors on the team, will be the No.1 singles player for the Eagles this season, while sophomore Kendra Latham fills the No. 2 singles spot. Rounding out the singles for South Putnam will junior Ashley Ross.

"I do think that there is more pressure at the varsity level, so I'm anxious to see who is going to step up and handle that pressure," Briones said.

The biggest change for the Eagles this year is the No. 1 doubles spot and the change isn't Klotz because that is a logical move; it's who her partner is. Tabitha Arnold will be Klotz's doubles partner and the reason that is a big change, is because Arnold has been a singles player her entire career.

"The transition's been smooth," Briones said. "She is learning the new set up very rapidly and has adjusted well.

"Megan's a great partner and she is working well with her and they both have been very aggressive and that's something I like," Briones said. "That's something that I want to see this year is us being more aggressive and attacking the match, especially in the doubles matches."

Since the beginning of practice, Briones has noticed that his players have put in the time during the off-season to get better.

"Quite a few of my players have shown improvement. Not just one or two, many of them have improved and that just shows me that they taking the time to work on their skills," Briones said. "And they should with the DePauw facilities at their disposal. There should be no excuse why they can't practice year round."

There is only one thing that Briones really wants to see from his team this year -- consistency.

"I want to see these girls be more consistent and play more aggressive," Briones said. "The one thing that I want them really work on is their confidence.

"When you play on the JV level, you are playing tennis and having fun, but on the varsity level there is a higher degree of pressure and intensity. I want to see these girls rise up to that challenge and have that confidence that they can play at this level." Briones said.

Briones said that he really doesn't know what to expect from his team this year.

"I don't see a repeat of a last year, but it wouldn't surprise me either," Briones said. "I think last year's team played with a lot confidence and consistency. I mean they played to win.

"I will know more on where we stand after our match against Greencastle. That match is a good measuring stick for us and I'm really anxious to see how these girls will step up and perform," Briones said.

South Putnam opens its season on Tuesday when it travels to Greencastle for a 4:30 p.m. match.