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Warriors Athlete of Week: Fletcher develops into clutch singles player

As a Brainerd Warrior sophomore Britney Fletcher earned All-Central Lakes Conference distinction playing No. 1 doubles with 2017 graduate Kennedy Rusk. The tandem compiled a 30-6 record last season and finished third in the subsection tournament ...

Brainerd Warrior No. 2 singles player Britney Fletcher returns a shot during practice this week.
Brainerd Warrior No. 2 singles player Britney Fletcher returns a shot during practice this week. Steve Kohls Brainerd Dispatch

 

As a Brainerd Warrior sophomore Britney Fletcher earned All-Central Lakes Conference distinction playing No. 1 doubles with 2017 graduate Kennedy Rusk.

The tandem compiled a 30-6 record last season and finished third in the subsection tournament before losing what turned out to be their only match at the section tournament.

During the offseason, Fletcher prepared herself for the possibility of moving into the singles lineup this fall, playing singles whenever she had an opportunity to do so.

"We never promised her playing singles," Warriors coach Lisa Salo said. "That's something we discussed as a coaching staff-'Let's give Britney a shot to see how it goes.' She has made the transition so seamless. She's so effective there.

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"Doing that meant Libby (Kurtzman) had to move to doubles, which Libby was excited about as well. Those two made the switch and it's working well for both of them."

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Britney Fletcher

  • Sport: Tennis
  • Position: No. 2 singles
  • Year: Junior
  • Age: 16
  • Height: 5-8
  • Career highlight: Winning match at No. 2 singles that gave Brainerd 4-3 win over Bemidji
  • Other sports: Lacrosse
  • Grade-point average: 3.9
  • Favorite class: Math
  • Favorite food: Pasta
  • Favorite TV show: "Vampire Diaries"
  • Favorite website: InstaGram
  • Future plans: Attend college, would like to play tennis, possibly major in nursing
  • Favorite tennis player: Maria Sharapova
  • Parents: Sandi and Ed Fletcher

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This fall, Fletcher won 17 of her first 21 matches at No. 2 singles. Included in her resume are two victories that gave Brainerd 4-3 wins over Bemidji and Willmar.

"I really like singles," Fletcher said, " ... but I never pushed singles because I really enjoyed doubles with Kennedy last year and we succeeded.

"I worked hard over the winter for singles because I like the self aspect, where it's on yourself. Some people might not like that. They like having a partner to keep them going, but I really like singles and it's been really going good."

Fletcher's first deciding victory was 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 over Bemidji's highly regarded Laura Palmer. The Warrior junior didn't realize she was going to provide her team with the decisive point.

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"I did see Taya (Person) and Libby were playing (doubles) on the opposite side of the court," Fletcher said, "but I didn't know Libby had gotten hurt. I thought they were in the third set. I knew (the meet) was close, but I didn't know I was the deciding factor.

"It was a really good match. We rallied a lot. At the end of the match, I was hitting all of my strokes. We were pretty evenly matched. It was good to beat her. She's a highly ranked section player."

In another three-set victory Sept. 12 at Willmar, Fletcher defeated the Cardinals' Jordyn Swoboda 6-1, 7-6 (6).

"It was very hot that day," Fletcher said. "In the first set, she was making a lot of mistakes. I was pushing on her, hitting it deep. The second set she was getting a lot more in and I was completely surprised. It turned out to be a good match. We were fighting. I had a lot of set points, match points, that I lost."

Fletcher has managed to remain as composed as possible in pressure situations.

"The Bemidji match I wasn't really nervous," she said. "The Willmar match I had a little nerves because the whole team was watching me. They were all against the fence directly watching me so I was a little nervous.

"I knew (the Willmar meet) was probably close. I knew I was the deciding factor. The Bemidji match I didn't know that so I wasn't that nervous. In the Willmar match, we had a lot of close points. We went into a tiebreaker and it was really close. Nerves got to me there I think."

Salo said one quality that makes Fletcher a successful singles player is being able to play the entire court.

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"What's also helped make her be successful is she has a lot of experience at net play, volleys and overheads, closing the net with her doubles experience," Salo said. "Now she's built confidence and consistency in her groundstroke game.

"She's definitely an all-court player. She can win points from the baseline just as effectively as she can transition to the net and win points from the net as well."

Salo said Fletcher loves a challenge, thrives on a close duel.

"I use quotes a lot-'Love the Battle,' and 'Pressure is a Privilege.' Britney embraces those," Salo said. "She's up for a challenge and she enjoys that. She's very athletic. She brings that composure to her competition. She stays pretty even-keel. That's a biggie for her to be so successful where she is."

A powerful serve also makes Fletcher a successful singles player.

"Her serve is a weapon," Salo said. "That girl can serve the ball. She places it well. She sets herself up so well with her serve."

Other notable efforts:

• Payge Fitterer, girls tennis, went 3-1 at No. 1 singles last week, including a victory over Rocori's Brynn Sauer, who she had never previously defeated.

• Regan McElfresh, girls soccer, scored two goals and collected five assists vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Courtney Russell, volleyball, recorded 31 kills in four matches at the Duluth East tournament and 21 vs. Sartell.

• Cara Helgeson, volleyball, registered 66 set assists at the Duluth East tournament and 41 vs. Sartell.

• Sam Miller, football, passed for 110 yards vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Charlie Geraets, football, rushed for 155 yards vs. Sauk Rapids.

Related Topics: BRAINERD WARRIORS
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