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Tennis champs begin title defense

The sun hangs high as the girls? tennis team finishes practice for the day. It is four thirty, and time to leave the sun-baked, concrete courts for home.

While the season is a fresh slate, plans for a successful one are already being made.

?Our goals this year are to win (West Sierra) league,? coach George Freeman said, ?and to win Valley for the sixth time.?

This may not be easy, as the team will have to withstand the loss of top players from last year. The two through seven spots from last years ladder will not be returning.

?This will be a rebuilding year,? Ashley Sherr, ?06, said, ?as we?ve lost a lot of players– especially Hillary Kell.?

Despite loosing girls to graduation, some team members continued to play over the summer.

?Many of the girls played competitive tennis and/or have taken lessons all summer,? Freeman said. ?This will be a big help.?

Freeman agrees but says high school sports? teams face this dilemma each year.

?We have a younger team,? Freeman said. ?We will start the year with only two seniors and six freshmen.?

According to team members, unseasonably hot weather and a young team will not stop these girls. Work and determination are this year?s themes, as they strive for the brilliance found in previous years. Hopes are high and for good reason.

?We plan to practice hard and keep a good attitude for this year’s team,? Erin Elmore, ?06, said.

While the team is sure to face tough matches, the girls will not have to face their archrivals Templeton this season; the coastal Eagles have been moved to a different division. This is however no reason for the team to relax.

?Coast Union will be our biggest challenge,? Sherr said. ?We?ll probably play them in the Division 5 Valley Championships.?

Every match though will be taken seriously; the girls have won 117 consecutive league victories in the regular season play. They have been WSL champions for ten years in a row.

?We hope for another Valley championship, but it will not be easy,? Sherr said, ?but it will be nice to have another senior on the team. Erin is a really great player and I enjoy playing with her.?

Responsibility falls on the two seniors, like keeping up team morale and to choose team outfits.

?Not only is she [Sherr] beautiful,? Elmore said, ?but she can ‘hecka’ play tennis.?

The tennis girls won their first scrimmage, 6-3, against Madera High on Aug. 30. While the match was an unpublicized exhibition, Madera is a Division I school and traditionally strong in girls’ tennis; they finished No. 2 in their division in 2004.

FC won all six singles matches in the eight-game pro sets but lost all three doubles matches in close games. Ashley Sherr, 8-6, Jennifer Beckman 8-5, Jaclyn Blackwell 8-5, Mary Kneefel, 8-3, Erin Elmore, 8-2, and Amanda Sherr, 8-4, all won for the Eagles in singles play.

The girl?s also won their first league match when they beat Tranquillity High, 9-0, on Sept. 6.

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