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Sports Person of the Week
Koplas Finds Her Stride on the Doubles Court
Rising senior Bree Koplas was an All-Shoreline Conference First Team honoree alongside Xan Zanzalari at the No. 1 doubles position for the Westbrook girls’ tennis team this spring. (Photo courtesy of Bree Koplas)
Bree Koplas knows what she is capable of as a tennis player. A rising senior at Westbrook High School, Bree formed one half of a dominant No. 1 doubles duo for the Knights’ girls’ tennis team this spring, while guiding the squad to an overall record of 17-3 on the season.
As a freshman at Westbrook, Bree felt that most of her struggles with the game stemmed from her mental approach on the court. However, Bree adopted a different mindset when she took the court as a junior captain this spring and wound up earning All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors alongside doubles partner Xan Zanzalari, who was also a junior this year. The tandem finished with a record of 13-4 on the campaign.
“To improve my game, I have changed my mindset,” says Bree. “I struggled more mentally than physically with my game. I would focus too much on a mistake I made, but I started telling myself to figure out what to do to fix the mistake or how to prevent it from happening again, and then accepting it and move on to the next point.”
Aside from the mental battles in tennis, Bree and her teammates had to deal with the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost the Knights their season in 2020. Bree felt fortunate that Westbrook was able to return to action this spring and do so in a safe environment.
“I was worried that we would have to forfeit games due to COVID cases among the team,” Bree says. “But my teammates wanted a safe season just like me, and there was not one COVID scare among my team during our 2021 season, thankfully.”
Head Coach Paula Fitzgerald says that Bree made a remarkable progression from her freshman year to her junior season. Fitzgerald believes that Bree has found her niche as a doubles player.
“Bree is the third Koplas to play tennis. She played 4th singles two years ago and expressed to me she wanted to play doubles and, boy, did that work out. She and her partner Xan were runners-up in the Shoreline Tournament,” says Fitzgerald. “Bree has an innate understanding of the game, saw a lot of tennis matches watching her older sisters play, and never panics. Her knowledge and calm demeanor helps the entire team’s approach to the game.”
Bree says that her relationship with Coach Fitzgerald has helped her improve as both an athlete and a student at Westbrook. The rising senior considers Fitzgerald a mentor and someone who she can go to whenever she has a problem.
“I love my head coach, Fitz,” says Bree. “She is such an enjoyable person to be around and can always put a smile on my face. She knows the sport very well and has a gift for teaching.”
Another one of Bree’s biggest supporters is her older sister Victoria. Bree watched Victoria play tennis when her sister attended Westbrook, and that made Bree want to follow in Victoria’s footsteps.
“I started playing tennis freshman year. My oldest sister Victoria played tennis during her high school career and, watching her play and how close the team was, I took an interest in the sport,” Bree says. “My favorite aspect of tennis is the unknown of what the next point will bring and the endless possibilities of what can happen after the serve.”
Bree’s favorite moment from her junior season was advancing to the Shoreline Conference final with Zanzalari. Bree feels that the two built a special bond this year and that more great things are in store for Westbrook as a whole in 2022.
“I think this season went very well considering all the uncertainty due to COVID. I was able to grow and improve my game,” says Bree. “Next year, I believe my team will be stronger than ever. I know that everyone is looking forward to getting back on the courts.”