Bulldogs' Brannies not an average tennis player

Maryn Brannies insists that she's just a normal girl.

"I just go to school, go to tennis and go to sleep," the senior on Kingman's girls' tennis team kept saying.

But as one of her teachers, Shirley Henderson put it, "where else would you find a belly-dancing tomboy who plays tennis but won't wear the skirt, works two jobs while attending school and is normal?"

Brannies plays in the No.

1 position for the Bulldogs and has been a big part of the team for the past three years.

Her sophomore year, she took fourth in the region as an unseeded player and lost to a teammate.

In her junior year, Brannies took third in the region and made it to the second round of the state tournament.

Last season, she was voted team MVP.

"I'm going to miss the heck out of her when she's gone," coach Kasie Juelfs said.

"She comes out, loves tennis and works hard.

I know she'll always give 100 percent.

She picked up a ton of wins last year, and obviously she'll get a lot this year."

Brannies has set high goals for herself this season.

"I want to go undefeated except for Mountain Ridge," Brannies said.

"I think I can do it.

Maybe."

Brannies has not yet played most of the girls she'll be facing this season and she admitted to being "kind of scared."

Brannies began playing tennis her freshman year for an admitted lack of anything better to do.

She had a lot of fun playing, so she stuck with it.

Brannies enjoys the individual aspect of the game, rather than a team focus.

"It's a sport you can play by yourself," Brannies said.

"With other sports you have your team and it's a team thing, but with tennis, it's 100 percent on your own.

You can't blame it on anyone.

You take credit whether it's good or bad."

"Except when it's doubles, then it's my partner's fault," she added jokingly.

Although her teammates all agree she's good at tennis, Brannies doesn't have big plans for a tennis career after high school, saying she wants to play "just for fun, on Sundays, when I'm old."

When Brannies isn't on the court or at school, she can be found working one of her two jobs at local restaurants.

In the few free moments she has, Brannies takes a belly-dancing class at Mohave Community College.

Her mother signed her up for it this semester, so every Wednesday, Brannies learns how to belly dance.

She has fun doing it and is even getting college credit for the class.

Most people who enjoy belly dancing won't have an aversion to wearing a skirt or a dress, but Brannies isn't like most people.

When she's on the tennis courts, Brannies insists on wearing shorts instead of a traditional tennis dress or skirt.

"I feel out of place in a skirt," Brannies said in defense of her outfit.

"When you think of skirts, you think of proms and fancy dinners, not running around, playing a sport.

If I wore shorts to a nice dinner, I'd be out place."

Brannies' personality and attitude have a lasting effect on those who know her.

"Practice would be very dull without her," Juelfs said.

"I wouldn't have any little gray hairs if it wasn't for her.

But it's fun coaching her.

She just wants to come out, kick butt and get the job done."

Brannies may have the opportunity to affect many more people's lives.

She is thinking about becoming a psychologist as a career.

"I want to be a real one, who actually helps people and not one who just asks stupid questions," Brannies said.

Those close to her think she has the ability to do whatever she wants.

"When Maryn decides to channel her energy and enthusiasm into something positive, she'll make a real difference," Henderson said.

Right now, she is channeling her energy into this season.

Juelfs has confidence that Brannies can achieve the goal she set for herself.

"She's a raw talent that didn't have any previous training," Juelfs said.

"But she can somehow manage to go out there and hold her own.

She has very good placement and she's very strategic.

She watches her opponents and knows their weaknesses.

And she preys on that.

She's good at getting into people's heads."

Kingman's next home match isn't until April 4, but Brannies will be out there, playing her game, just like any normal girl.

Except she'll be the one wearing shorts instead of a skirt.