NEW ULM - Looking to build on last year's improvements and a core nucleus of young players, New Ulm Eagles girl's tennis coach Kevin Maudal is optimistic about the future of the team.
"Much improved," Maudal said. "Starting this year they are way more advanced this year than they were last year."
The Eagles won two of their meets last season after going winless the previous year. The team did not lose any players to graduation and are now poised for a more skilled, experienced showing.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm sophomore Taylor Bolduan will play at the No. 1 singles position for the Eagles this season.
"We didn't graduate anyone last year, and so the whole team is back," Maudal said. "Our biggest strength is that everyone's returning. They've played the positions. It's not like we're moving JV to varsity. It's just that varsity is moving around. Almost everyone that's playing varsity now played varsity last year."
Maudal is building the team up and hopes that a skilled group of younger players can keep the team competitive for years.
"Starting out last year I felt that we were climbing a steep hill, but now at least we're half-way up," Maudal said.
In addition to the strength of a returning team, the Eagles only carry three seniors on the roster this year and their current top singles player, Taylor Bolduan, is only a sophomore. The team has had such an influx of young players that Maudal was forced to split junior varsity and varsity practices due to limited court space. They number more than 30 players now. Maudal hopes that by splitting the teams they can have more focused practices.
Bolduan won her number one singles position in team playoffs this past week, but will have to battle last year's incumbent Emma Vranich when the player returns from a vacation.
In only her sophomore year, Bolduan has played tennis since the eighth grade and rose quickly to the top of the singles game. She played No. 2 and No. 3 singles last season, but moved up this year with practice.
"I was out here at the courts quite a bit this summer," she said.
Bolduan also echoed her coach's sentiments on the team.
"Nobody graduated, so we can only get better," said Bolduan. "I think we're going to be quite a bit better than last year. We're older now."
When asked to sum up the attitude of the team this year, the player gave one word: "Positive."
New Ulm opens the season at the Mankato East Invitational Invitational on Friday.