It all begins with the serve.
When Biglerville High sophomore Carlee Brumgard took to the tennis court for the first time last season, she already had an impressive arsenal.
It was so imposing, in fact, that she was named the All-Area Girls' Tennis Athlete of the Year and became the first freshman to take the honor.
However, Brumgard was just getting started. After an even better 2011, the Canner 10th-grader has repeated as the leading girls' tennis player in the Hanover area.
And, thanks to a decision to stay with tennis instead of soccer, which begins fall play next year, there is the matter of that serve.
"I didn't worry about her resting her racket on her shoulder before her serve," Biglerville Head Coach Chris Heller said, figuring Brumgard would eventually move to soccer. "But she looked at me and said, 'I have to do the serve, don't I?'"
Therefore, as Brumgard enters her second offseason, she said she will work upon improving her one acknowledged weakness to her game.
"Every coach that has seen me play say I move when I serve," she said about wasted motion in her delivery. " ... It's going to take a lot of work and I think, the more I practice, the better I'll be. I have to commit to practicing it."
Toward that end, Brumgard said she will go to clinics in Camp Hill and will work with an individual coach to better an already impressive game.
That game produced a 15-4 singles mark during the fall, coming after a 12-6 record in 2010. She also improved her place in the YAIAA Class AA Championship from third to second.
Brumgard said familiarity with her opposition helped greatly this season, in which a veteran Biglerville lineup produced a 10-4 season, including 6-2 in YAIAA Division II.
She also resumed her acquaintance with doubles partner Mikayla Trimmer, a senior, for the second straight year. Together, they produced a 6-3 mark and third place in Class AA doubles in the YAIAA Championships.
"I don't know how to explain it," she said of her on-court chemistry with Trimmer. "I know Mikayla and I just worked a lot better because we played together the previous year."
However, this was the final season for Trimmer, an All-Area second-team selection, and Brumgard said, "I think we'll have to be more focused next year because of the girls we're losing."
Brumgard's teammates leave a strong legacy, including a berth in the District 3 Class AA Team Tournament, an achievement not lost on the Canners' young number-one singles player.
Asked to compare that with her individual honors, Brumgard said, "I think getting to team districts was better because the school hadn't done it in 11 years. For a few of our seniors, it was good to end on that note."
But plenty of talent, including Brumgard, will return in 2012. Brumgard's presence provides instant leadership after she made her choice to put aside the soccer ball for the tennis racket.
"I started playing soccer when I was 5 and I loved it, but then I was put on a club team and that fell apart," she said. "That's when I started to get into tennis, and then playing tennis kind of overruled soccer.
"I guess it makes me happier when I'm playing tennis than when I play soccer. When I play tennis and do something wrong, I know I can blame myself. If soccer if you mess up, it's a team thing."
So Brumgard has committed to a tennis program of self-improvement.
And it starts with that serve.
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