"We had eight players and we put two players on each baseline," Brubaker said. "And then they would dance with their feet."
The rapid shuffle of legs, a routine which resembled a common football drill, was designed to instill a need to get to every tennis shot and then to get into position to return it. They were key factors for a Canner squad which entered the season with uncertainty.
By the finish, Biglerville stood alone atop the Hanover area as the team which reached the PIAA Team Tournament, the principal reason Brubaker has earned his third All-Area Coach of the Year designation. The coach previously took the honor in 2008 and 2010.
However, this year's selection may have appeared most unlikely when the season began. The Canners lost four of their top five singles players, three through graduation. In addition, one of the replacements, Nate Long, underwent knee surgery which turned out to be more serious than originally thought.
Yet the Canners overcame a loss to New Oxford in the season's second match and sped off to an 8-1 start.
"We started gelling four or five matches into the season," Brubaker said, "Somewhere at that point, I thought about 8-and-7 and being third in the (YAIAA Division II) league, and that we'd have a nice season with all of these replacements.
Instead, Brubaker got much more, such as an eventual 20-win season in singles from Cole Herzing, who moved from the number-three slot to the top of the lineup. Eventually, he placed second to Hanover senior Joel Garrett in the YAIAA Class AA Singles Championship.
"He set the tone for us," Brubaker said about Herzing. "With probably a little better serve and a little better maturity, he will be a dominant player next year. He became a leader. He would hit with anyone in practice."
A 4-3 loss at Susquehannock forced the Canners into an eventual three-way tie with the Warriors and York Suburban for the YAIAA Division II title. It was a situation which required a playoff to determine the YAIAA's District 3 Class AA Team Tournament representatives.
Biglerville barely advanced, courtesy of a 4-3 win over Susquehannock in a 6 1/2-hour match indoors at Wisehaven Tennis Center. The Canners then took the top seed with a 4-1 win over York Suburban.
A third-place finish in the district team tournament followed and that put Biglerville on the road to Altoona for a PIAA Class AA Team Tournament matchup with District 6 champion Westmont-Hilltop. The Canners lost 3-2 to finish at 15-5.
Through it all, Brubaker knew he had a team which largely lacked speed and power, so his mantra was a simple one.
"The goal was to get one more ball back than our opponents," he said. "No matter how you do it, overhead, drop shot, volley, forehand, backhand. That was our theme song from the beginning.
"It worked and I'm proud of the boys for how hard they worked."
At least in 2013, Brubaker will have a certain No. 1 player in Herzing while others, such as Chad Dotson-Jones, will be counted, like Herzing did, to rise up in the lineup.
"Every year a team will lose two, three or four players, but if other players move in, come out or step up, you can stay in the mix," Brubaker said.
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