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Pair of teams grip for spring campaign

The Rutgers men’s and women’s golf teams are ready to resume action and get back to work on the course.

Both have high expectations for the spring 2012 portion of the golf season. Coming off impressive finishes at the conclusion of 2011, the golfers are anxious to carry over the momentum to this season.

The men’s team finished eighth at the Lehigh Invitational to close out the fall season.

Sophomore golfer Doug Walters played a crucial role at the tournament, as well as throughout the season. Walters was a catalyst for the Scarlet Knights.

Walters and the Knights are ready to move forward set goals for this season.

“We came off of a decent finish in 2011, but we are still hungry for more,” Walters said.

Although the Knights are excited to get back to the game, this part of the season will be one full of adjustments. Assistant coach Wally Kim left following the fall campaign.

“Coach Kim’s resignation came as a surprise to all of us,” Walters said. “But no matter who our next coach will be, we all will come out and be ready to play at a high level.”

The Knights want to work toward new heights with their new coaching staff and young core. The team is ready to do whatever it takes to continue to win.

On the other side, the women’s team is also prepared to pick up where it left off.

Placing 10th at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Kapolei, Hawaii, the Knights competed and made a name for themselves.

Led by freshman Kortnie Maxoutopoulis, the team finished the season on a high note and looks to go even farther during the spring. Maxoutopoulis’ leadership helped the Knights to where they stand as a team.

“One of my strengths is my ability to help lead my teammates more mentally, as opposed to physically,” Maxoutopoulis said.

Being a leader is difficult enough, but settling in as a first-year golfer and leading a team takes more than the talent that brought Maxoutopoulis to Rutgers.

“I love to work on my game,” she said. “I am always trying to see what I can improve on to develop my game and make me better. I think that attitude is what helps me on the course.”

What makes a team so successful is the driving force of its head coach. Head coach Maura Waters-Ballard is the motivation behind the Knights’ competitive play.

Waters-Ballard is dedicated to a still-developing program and has made an impact on its growth.

“Of all the seasons that I have coached, I believe that this past fall has been the best,” she said. “It was fabulous. Everyone played very well, even when the chips were down. We always played with 100-percent effort.”

Expectations remain high for the Knights to continue their consistent play through the remainder of the season and into the future.

But Waters-Ballard stands firm in the belief to take one shot, stroke, practice and match at a time.

“To keep my players focused, I continue to tell them to stay in the present and give 100 percent to the shot at hand,” she said. “Don’t worry about what happened in the past because you can’t change it. Don’t worry about what’s in the future — just worry about what’s in the present. Do your best right then.”

Both teams make their spring debuts on March 16 at the Siena College Invitational in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The Knights are ready to prove their hard work during the offseason was worth it.

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