NEW ULM - The New Ulm Eagles girls' tennis team had a rough season last year with a record of 3-10.
This season, head coach Kevin Maudal and the girls hope to be a .500 team.
The Eagles are a younger team this season with eighth graders coming up to play at the varsity level.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Hannah Jakel will play on the No. 1 doubles team for the Eagles this year.
"It won't be easy this year as we have five starters from last season gone, and we have a young team now," Maudal said. "We have a younger team, so we are going to do our best to develop good tennis skills and just get some experience."
Emily Steinman and Kelsey Preisinger are the graduated players from last season. Steinman played at No. 1 singles and Preisinger was at No. 4 singles.
Maudal is in his second year coaching the Eagles. The team will focus more on serving this season and advancing the younger players to be ready at varsity level.
With all the newer girls stepping up to play at the varsity level, everyone will have to connect with all the other players to help bring up everyone's level of play.
"I am a laid-back coach, I want tennis to be fun for the girls, but at the same time for them to give it 110 percent all the time," Maudal said. "I am not a coach that's driven on wins and losses, it's what they can improve on."
This season the Eagles believe they will have just as a strong competition as it was last year. The Eagles know how tough they have to be to pull out a win, and they will be ready for the challenges this season.
"It's kinda hard taking these young kids and throwing them into a varsity position," Maudal said. "We don't want to lose on double faults this season."
Hannah Jakel (12) and Marissa Johnson (12) are the returning No. 1 doubles team for the Eagles and will also be the team's captains. This season they hope to improve their skills and winning record. They are also eager to have fun their senior year and to help improve the younger players and teach them to keep playing and never give up.
"For doubles, I think you really need to work on connecting with who you're playing with, and I played with [Johnson] last year," Jakel said. "So we are pretty in tune with each other and do pretty well as a team and are good friends outside of tennis as well."
The Eagles' doubles teams should do farely well this season, but there are a lot of changes from last season. There are players who played doubles last season that are playing singles this year. Most moves in tennis are gradual as players climb to No. 1 and No. 2 positions, but this season players have jumped two or three spots.
Jakel suffered a knee injury in track her sophomore year. She didn't join track her junior year so she could get herself ready to play tennis this season.
"I think I play better on the court when I know someone has my back when I can't get to the ball," Jakel said. "I really like playing with Marissa."
This season, Jakel has been working more on her serving. She wanted a little change in her game to see if it would help her improve. Her new serve seems to be working well and she is hoping to fine-tune it and make her serve a really strong part of her game.
Jakel has prepared herself for the upcoming tennis season by getting on the court and playing, not just working out.
"I just tried to play over the summer and just really get out there," Jakel said. "You don't really need to work on your serving all the time. You just need to get out there and get on the court so when it comes to the season, you're ready to work on the techniques."
Jakel plans on going to St. Olaf College next year, where her mother played on the tennis team. Jakel will look to either play on the varsity team or at the very least at the intramural level.
"I want to carry tennis with me," Jakel said. "But I'd like to stay in state as well."
Maudal would really like to see the girls give it their all this season, develop something that can be a life-long sport and have fun, but learn something from it. No one has to be all in it to win it.
Playing at singles this season for the Eagles will be Laura Albrecht (12) at No. 1, Jennifer Martens (12) at No. 2, Maya Sarkar (9) at No. 3 and Miriam Jakel (10) at No. 4.
At doubles this season will be Hannah Jakel and Johnson at No. 1, Gracelyn Sarkar (10) and Emma Vranich (10) at No. 2 and Matea Seivert (9) and Sicily Trullinger (8) at No. 3.
"Tuesdays and Thursdays are the main times we play, check the schedule and we'd love to have people come and watch," Maudal said. "Usually the only people to come and watch are the parents. If we could get the community to come and watch, that'd be great."