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Doubles capture WSL tennis crown

Months of hard work and immense effort have paid off for the FC women’s tennis team. At the West Sierra League Tournament, on Oct. 27, FC played one of the most successful matches in its history. Out of nine possible medals, FC took home six, the maximum any team could win.

In singles, Michelle Smith, ’04, took second place, losing in a heartbreaking game to Sarah Sherrifs, ’02 of Fowler. Samantha Kimball, ’02, placed third.

“I watched Michelle’s game against Sarah Sherrifs, and Michelle played her heart out,” said Kell. “She was a little disappointed that she lost, but she knew she had done her best.”

In doubles, Hillary Kell, ’05, and Katherine Babcock, ’04, competed against Julie Fujihara, ’03, and Jaryn Warren, ’03, for the number one and two spots in an unanticipated FC versus FC match. Kell and Babcock won the match, taking first place.

“We did really well,” Babcock said. “Hillary was incredible working through her jammed finger. Towards the end of the match our teamwork got better and we were able to win.”

Coach Freeman agreed with Babcock and praised his doubles players.

“I was very proud of my girls,” Freeman said. “Especially Katherine Babcock and Hillary Kell who played some of the best and most consistent doubles (at the WSL Tournament) I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The Sierra Division playoffs have already held great success for the17-0 Eagles, who won their first playoff match against Coast Union, 6-3, on Nov. 8.

Having overcome the obstacle of a young, relatively inexperienced team, the varsity tennis team has gone undefeated in league. The team hopes to recapture its fourth Valley Championship it lost against Templeton last year.

“We struggled a bit in our matches against Coast Union,” Kimball said, “but we were able to pull through and win. I think we were a bit nervous about our next game against Templeton but if we do our best, I know we have a good chance at winning the Valley championship.”

The decisive match of the playoffs is anticipated to be the championship match between FC and rival, Templeton. FC defeated Templeton three times in ’99, ’98, and ’97 to claim the title of Valley champs. Last year, however, Templeton usurped FC from the number spot, and claimed the Valley Championship.

“Last year we played as hard as we could against Templeton,” George Freeman, head tennis coach said. “Every player gave 110% effort. We tracked down each ball, hit every serve, and called all our shots ethically. I was disappointed that we lost, but I was not disappointed in my girls.”

This year though, Freeman hopes the outcome of the championship match will be different.

“When we play Templeton this year, it will be a hard-fought, all-out match with both teams giving 100% effort,” said Freeman. “Each team will be playing their best tennis of the whole season. It will be intense, and it’s hard to predict the outcome. But I think we defiantly have a chance to win Valley.”

The tennis team has come a long way. It started out as a group of girls who consisted of three freshmen and four newcomers to the game of tennis. The team has ended up as a dedicated group of tennis players with a consistent style of tennis that effectively wins matches.

Both team beginners and old hands alike aspire to win Valley this year. Returnees to the team are eager for victory over Templeton, their old rival.

“We played our best against Templeton last year,” Babcock said. “We were disappointed in the fact that we lost, but we weren’t disappointed about how we played. I really want to beat Templeton this year.”

Newcomers to the team are dreaming of making their first year of tennis Valley champions.

“This is my first year playing high school tennis, and I really want a successful year,” Hillary Kell, ’05, said. “I would really like to win Valley, and I think we’ve got the talent to do it.”

Whatever the outcome of the playoffs may be Freeman is proud of his team who have already met with outstanding success in the WSL Individual Tournament.

FC will play at Templeton for the Sierra Division championship on Nov.13.

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