NEW ULM Coming back for the third year to coach the New Ulm Eagles girls tennis team, Kevin Maudal, will face a tough competitive conference this season with Waseca, St. James, Blue Earth Area, Fairmont and St. Peter.
The Eagles went 0-16 last season and are looking to build a stronger team and want to see improvements.
"We have a really young team, with only three players that have varsity experience" Maudal said, "but every one that will be playing singles for us will have had played singles at some time."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Miriam Jakel is going to be one of the leaders for the Eagles this year.
There are some changes to the team this season with players jumping a few spots, but most of the players that will be in singles and doubles will at some point have played them positions.
The Eagles graduated four seniors, Hannah Jakel, Marissa Johnson, Laura Albrecht and Jennifer Martens from last season and have six returning players. Maya Sarkar, Miriam Jakel, Gracelyn Sarkar, Emma Vranich, Matea Seivert and Sicily Trullinger. The Eagles will add eight new players to the varsity team this season including Jane Arnoldt, Hayley Bocock, Taylor Bolduan, Claire Dobie, Rose Dobie, Sara Guymon, Marni Malecek and Meleah Reinhart.
"With such a young team this year, we are hoping to win at least one game this year," Maudal said. "We can't do any worse than last year. We can only make progress and climb from here."
Maudal is looking for ways to improve this season by taping, and charting the girls' practices and games to show them what they can do better and what to work on.
"I am starting to chart like serves, forehands, backhands," Maudal said. "I just want them to improve every game and keep stats so they can also make individual goals for themselves."
With taping practices and games, the girls will be able to see what they can improve on and what they are good at and they will see their mistakes and it should improve there techniques on the game.
The Eagles will focus on techniques this year and serving. With a strong serve and no double faults should give the girls ambition to win a game or two. The girls will learn more from loses, but feel better about wins.
Another technique Maudal is going to utilize is taking risks. If the girls can't tae risks they will probably lose confidence in themselves and loses their matches, but if a risk is taken they have that confidence in good a good return and to beat an opponent.
"I want to build every time and by working on these techniques should get this young team developed and ready to return as a competitive team," Maudal said. "With my assistant coach Doug working with the younger kids, I can work with just varsity and by the time they get to varsity level with me, they will have the techniques instead of teaching them as they are at varsity level. They will always have developing skills."
Returning player, Miriam Jakel is this season's captain as a junior. She is hoping to lead the team and to help the younger players build confidence in themselves. Jakel has played tennis since she was in seventh grade. She played No. 4 Singles last season and took a big step up to the No. 1 singles for this season.
"This will be the biggest learning curve for me this season," Jakel said. "I will be playing against the No. 1 singles after taking a huge step from last season and now this step. It's different when you have been playing like for two or three years at No. 1."
With preparing herself over the summer from practicing a lot, Jakel is ready for the competition and ready to take risks this season instead of being a safe player like last season.
"I am taking risks, aiming for corners," Jakel said. "Safe players will just return the ball to the center every time and it's easy to play against them, but this time I am working on aiming for corners."
Playing at third singles for the first game this season will be Mattea Sievert. The line up isn't decided where the players will step in at. Sievert will be in her fourth season of playing tennis, looking to improve more on her game and just have fun. Sievert is moving from No. third doubles last season to third singles so far.
"I am better at singles because I don't have to worry about hitting my partner anymore," Sievert said. "It will be easier on me and I don't have anyone else to blame but me."
Sievert prepared herself over the summer attending a tennis camp and also practicing with her dad. Her strong points are her serving and forehand, but she still has things to work on this season.
"I look back at what I did wrong, and I learn from it," Sievert said. "When I learn from it I can help the younger players learn and to have fun. I want to build them up to be strong players too."
The Eagles open today at Mankato East.