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Warriors Athlete of Week: Patience becoming virtue for No. 1 singles player

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Brainerd Warrior No. 1 singles player Britney Fletcher practices Monday, Sept. 10, on the Brainerd High School courts. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video 2 / 2

Wait and create.

That's what Brainerd Warrior girls tennis head coach Lisa Salo has been preaching to her No. 1 singles player Britney Fletcher. Basically the saying means maintaining composure and focus, being patient and hanging in there to build a point.

"That's what Britney's got to build is how she approaches her matches at the first singles level and she's starting to do that," Salo said. "We've talked to her about big targets and depth. If she can focus on keeping the ball deep, working the point, waiting and creating that right shot, then she has more options to use."

Fletcher concedes she's not the most patient player but is getting better.

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Britney Fletcher

  • Sport: Tennis
  • Position: No. 1 singles
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: 17
  • Height: 5-8
  • Other sports: Lacrosse
  • Grade-point average: 3.9
  • Favorite class: Math
  • Favorite food: Enchiladas
  • Favorite movie: "Mamma Mia"
  • Favorite TV show: "Vampire Diaries"
  • Favorite website: Instagram
  • Favorite restaurant: Olive Garden
  • Future plans: Take year off, work and travel, eventually plans to attend Montana State University and hopefully play tennis
  • Favorite tennis player: Maria Sharapova
  • Parents: Sandi and Ed Fletcher

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"What happens a lot for me is I'm wanting to end the point right away," she said. "Then that leads me to messing up because it's not the right shot. I need to wait for (opponents) to give me a good shot that I can set up better. What I need to work on, and have been working on, is waiting for the right shot to come to me and not trying to force it right away because then we have longer points.

"Then it's not as many unforced errors on my part which a lot of that sometimes gives (opponents) games because it's on my unforced errors. It's just eliminating those and waiting for the right shot, setting myself up correctly instead of trying to force it."

Fletcher has been creating victories with frequency this fall in her first season at No. 1 singles and in only her second season playing singles. She sported a 14-5 record following Tuesday's win against Willmar and hoisted her career mark to 85-25. Fletcher said the level of competition at No. 1 has been her biggest adjustment moving from No 2 singles.

"I've had a lot of close matches this season," she said, "so I really need to bring my game every match because usually No. 1 singles is very good competition, one of the best players on the team. I really need to be ready for anybody that we play."

Last week Fletcher was ready for her competition, winning five of six matches. She lost a 3-setter to Bemidji's Savannah Haugen before defeating Fergus Falls' Ellie Colbeck.

Then she won all four of her matches in Brainerd's Moose Tournament last weekend, outlasting Megan Muller of Pequot Lakes 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 for the title in front of many onlookers.

"I've never had that happen to me before," Fletcher said. "We were playing the championship round and everyone else was done so they were all sitting on the courts waiting for us to finish. All eight teams were watching us and all the parents. It was like the whole stadium. That put pressure on each point.

"It was a really fun match. It was close. The first set went into a tiebreaker and I won it. The second set she only got one game. It was close but it was fun."

Salo said Fletcher elevated her game in the Moose championship match.

"She's got more steps to go," Salo said. "We saw steps in her ability to maintain her focus and be composed in particular in that finals match. She was up 5-4 in the first set, dropped two games to go down 6-5 and pulled it up to a tie break so it was 6-6. Then she won the tiebreak which was close. In the second set, it was close as well and she won it 6-4.

"It was really cool because the whole tournament was done. This was the last match on the court and everyone was watching. It had that championship feel that a first singles match with two good tennis players competing should have. It was the perfect setting for both of those girls. Both of them played very well."

Salo said Fletcher succeeds because she's an all-court player, one who can thrive at the baseline or at the net.

"Britney loves to play the net," Salo said. "She has that doubles experience from her freshman and sophomore years. She's not afraid of net play at all. She seeks it. She comes to the net."

Fletcher will graduate from Brainerd High School next spring with an associate in arts degree. Her tentative post-high school plan is to take a year off to work and travel. Eventually she wants to move to Bozeman, Mont., and attend Montana State University where she hopes to play for the Bobcats' tennis team.

"I have a few friends that have visited there and absolutely fell in love with it," Fletcher said. "It's gorgeous, with all the mountains, and they liked the weather there. I've really liked how outdoorsy everyone is there. They're always walking and hiking. That's where I kind of want to live. I think it will be really fun going to college there."

Other notable efforts:

• Jack Thorkelson, soccer, scored four goals and had an assist vs. Alexandria and added two goals vs. Rocori.

• Gina Wasniewski, soccer, had a goal and four assists vs. Alexandria.

• Delaney Schaeffer, volleyball, collected 29 blocks in four matches.

• Sam Miller, football, threw for 130 yards and a TD vs St. Cloud Tech

• Madelyn Gibbons and Jeanna Host, swimming, each won two individual events vs Willmar

• Avery Eckman, volleyball, collected 27 kills and 23 digs at the Sauk Rapids Tournament and had 20 kills vs. Fergus Falls and vs. Alexandria.

• Kate Kurtzman, tennis, won the No. 2 singles title in the Moose Tournament.

• Taya Person-Heidi Jacobson, Jaycie Hinrichs-Lily Jones, and Ally Goeden-Addie Sanford, tennis, won doubles titles in the Moose Tournament.

• Jacquilyn Rude, swimming, won two individual events and was on two winning relays vs. St. Cloud Tech.