Douglass to lead the way for South Putnam tennis

Saturday, March 24, 2007
South Putnam senior Shelly Douglass hits a return during practice. South Putnam will open its season on the road against Greencastle April 10 at 4:30 p.m.

Sports Writer

PUTNAMVILLE -- With senior Shelly Douglass spearheading the attack, the South Putnam girls' tennis team is hoping to make an impact this year against both county and conference rivals alike.

After watching practice over the last few weeks, coach Johnnie Briones likes what he sees.

"I'm really excited about the season," Briones said. "I feel really good about it, having my one senior coming back and a strong junior class."

South suffered some key losses this year with graduation. Departing were three of South's top players in Annie Willer, Savanna Cline and Kim Puckett, but with talent at all levels, Briones thinks things will take care of themselves.

With only one returning senior on the squad, most coaches might be concerned, but Briones feels his underclassmen have more than enough talent to make an impact.

"We have a very strong junior class. They're really even -- a good even," he said.

He has also been impressed by his freshman class, which he sees as having the ability to step up the competition.

"I'm really pleased to see them coming out and hitting consistently," Briones commented. "Most freshman come in and tap the ball -- these girls are aggressive."

But even with a talented underclassmen surrounding her, Douglas will be Briones' No. 1. In practice Douglas shows speed and the ability to cross her opponents over themselves. Douglas will predominately be the leader of the team, but Briones said he has a few juniors who are pretty vocal.

The tandem of Sam Callahan and Chelsea Clark will lead South's doubles squad. Briones was quick to note the strength of the two is their ability to meld together.

"They complement each other really well. I think we'll be really competitive," he said.

Briones also noted that members of his team practiced together in the off-season, and that could make the difference.

The goals for the Eagles squad are simple ones that Briones believes the team can achieve.

"Our biggest goals are Greencastle and Northview," Briones responded, " If we can compete well with them, we'll feel pretty good. They always have good programs coming in every year."

"Greencastle is the first match of the year. So we kind of gauge and see how it goes."

South Putnam opens its season on the road against Greencastle April 10 at 4:30 p.m.

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