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Tennis hopes for undefeated season marred by championship loss

Despite an undefeated season, their high hopes for a Valley Championship title came to an end as the women’s tennis team lost the Sierra Division Valley Championship, 2-7, to Templeton, Nov. 13.

“I think we played very well,” head tennis coach George Freeman said. “We gave it everything we had. We played our best, all-out tennis. I’m proud of my girls.”

This was the first loss for FC, who went 10-0 in the West Sierra League. Since their first loss fell on such a big game, many team members found it hard to swallow.

“Templeton was a very good team,” Michelle Smith, ’04, said. “We all played our hardest, and I have no regrets. I was a little upset that we lost though.”

Younger members on the team have set goals for next year’s season, to ensure a championship win over Templeton.

“I would really like to beat Templeton next year,” Hillary Kell, ’05, said. “They’re a really good team. I wasn’t too disappointed that we lost to them this year, since they’re so good, but I want to win against them next year.”

However, tough as the loss may have been for FC, most agree that Templeton is a worthy opponent. Both Templeton and FC have a history of winning decisive championship matches. FC and Templeton have battled each other for the Valley Championship title for five consecutive years. FC won it for three consecutive years in ’97, ’98, and ’99. Templeton has won the championship two consecutive years, in ’00 and now, in ’01.

“Templeton is a well-coached and hard-working team,” Freeman said. “They have an overwhelming desire to do their best.”

Despite this final loss, most players feel that their season had been an overall positive and fun experience. Skills were sharpened, and the future of women’s tennis on campus was established.

“Our season was so much fun,” Kell said. “I learned a lot, but we also had fun at practices and games. Mr. Freeman makes it fun to practice tennis.”

To guarantee success, the girls learned over the season to combine their many talents for a winning record. Despite a great variety of skills, Freeman cites consistency as the team’s undisputed strength.

“Over the season, we’ve become more consistent hitters,” Freeman said. “We’ve gotten more precise and accurate. I would say that this is our biggest strength.”

In order to fine-tune skills and keep themselves in practice, many players, such as Johanna Iest, plan on taking tennis lessons over the summer.

“I’m taking lessons over the summer so I can improve my skills and stay in shape for next year,” Iest said.

Awards for the tennis team, recognizing outstanding skills and determination, will be given out at the Fall Sports Awards Night on Nov. 26.

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