Brennan leads Wildcats to success in first year

Katie Brennan

FRONT ROYAL — Katie Brennan wasn’t sure what to expect this season.

The first-year girls tennis coach had heard that Warren County had a good season last year, but she didn’t realize how solid the program was until the season started.

“After we won our first game 9-0, I was tickled pink and they were like ‘we’ve had a few of those games before’ and I’m like, what?,” Brennan said. “Then it kept going and going and going. I’m like oh my god these kids are actually really, really doing well.”

The wins kept coming one after another in the regular season as the Wildcats went a perfect 10-0. They had four shutouts among their victories.

Even though they would eventually lose in the Region 3A East quarterfinals to James Monroe, Brennan was very pleased with the season.

“I’m excited about how well they did,” Brennan said. “They just worked hard. They came to practice and showed up and did what they were supposed to do, so hopefully that will continue next year.”

The Wildcats lost four of their top six from last season, and coach Jeannie Tallent, and the players weren’t sure what to expect from Brennan.

“I was very nervous at first, getting a new coach, but then I met her,” Warren County junior Jayme Goode said. “She was very warm. She was very open to our whole team. … She stepped up this year, took a big role. First year of coaching tennis, and I think she did a good job stepping in. Coach Tallent was a phenomenal tennis coach and she had some big shoes to fill and she did a good job.”

Brennan, the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2015 Girls Tennis Coach of the Year, said she played tennis at Clarke County, and also coached cheerleading at a few schools.

She said she really enjoyed her first season with the program.

“It was wonderful. The girls were so welcoming and helpful when I had questions,” Brennan said. “[Warren County athletic director Ed] Dike, [Assistant AD Dorinda] Robinson were just as helpful. So it’s been a great fit, a great place for somebody new like me to come in. A great tennis program that coach Talent had worked hard to set up, and I was just hoping to come in and take over and keep it going.”

The Wildcats not only had success as a team, but also individually. Goode advanced to the regional tournament in singles, and teamed with Alyssa Pauley to advance in doubles as well.

Brennan said she learned a lot in her first season as head coach.

“I’ve learned that just being supportive of my girls and working on technique at the beginning is very important, but towards the end just keeping up the mentality and the willpower has been the most important aspect,” Brennan said.

The Wildcats will lose three of their top six from this year’s team, but should have another strong team next year.

Brennan said she’s excited for next season.

“Next year I hope to make it as far as we did this year,” Brennan said. “Honestly, there are some new girls coming up that are playing and I hope to get them into the same kind of positions that we already have and just keep it going.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com