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Tennis star leads on, off court

The Valley champions stride onto the court, intensely focused on defeating their competition. With an even stroke, Hillary Kell, ’05, fights for a victory. Kell is currently ranked second on the tennis team and has been playing for five years.

“When I was in sixth grade Mr. [George] Freeman [tennis coach] kept insisting that I play tennis in junior high, so I decided to try it,” Kell said. “I loved the sport, and I have played all throughout high school.”

Kell comes from a family background strongly involved in sports. Her three older sisters helped spark her interest in the sporting world.

“My eldest sister played basketball, volleyball and softball when she was in high school,”” Kell said. “”It was always fun for me to go to her games. As I watched her, I could not wait until it was my turn to play.”

Kell enjoys being part of a team and has developed many skills in through her tennis career.

“Since junior high, Hillary has developed a dominating high top spin, pinpoint accuracy and a down-the-line backhand slice,” Freeman said. “She’s also got a volley at the net that has been outlawed in four states.”

With every passing year, Kell has gained experience on the court by observing others, both amateur and professional.

“I really admire Andy Roddick; I want his serve!”” Kell said. “”He has really upped the intensity level in the tennis world. He has brought tennis from a boring spot to a very exciting one, plus he’s not too hard on the eyes either.”

With their season off to a great start, the team is pushing themselves to achieve more.
They set goals for each match they compete in.

“We give ourselves new challenges each game, like trying to hit the ball between our legs, winning 8-0 or getting at least three aces,” Kell said. “My personal goal is to win Valley for the second year in a row.”

In addition to playing tennis, Kell also participates in varsity basketball and softball. Off the court, she serves as senior class leader.

Kell extends her position of leadership to athletics, encouraging her teammates.

“Hillary is a leader who helps all the girls play their best,” Freeman said. “She is a constant source of entertainment and fun.”

The tennis team is currently undefeated. Their next home game will be against Fowler on Oct. 5. For more information about the girls’ tennis team, contact Freeman at 299-1695, ext. 122.

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