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Senior leads team on hard-court

As championship matches approach and the season comes to a close, senior and captain Jaclyn Blackwell must soon say goodbye to six years of service on the hard-courts.

After winning three consecutive Valley Championships, the expectations for the team would seem to appear stressful for Blackwell.

?I actually don?t feel the pressure as the captain,? Blackwell said. ?Of course I want to win valley, but with the playoff seating I understand we have our work cut out for us. I know we will be playing some challenging matches, but my goal for the team is to win and I can?t ask for anything more than that.?

The team has only lost one match outside of the Peach Tree Tournament. Although the team has experienced three injuries from the starting lineup, Blackwell still expects the team to play as well.

?The number of injuries came as a big surprise and it definitely hurt the strength of our team,? Blackwell said. ?We have worked through them though and the rest of the team has stepped up in performance.?

Even though Blackwell has been playing competitive tennis since junior high, she admits her private lessons played a large role in her development as an athlete.

?I still take lessons from Mark Belman each week.” Blackwell said. “He has been a huge help in strengthening my skills in all aspects of the game. I owe him for all the hours he has worked with me.?

Blackwell may hold the No. 1 title, but she believes in the importance of team unity.

?I have been playing tennis for years, and I have never seen No. 1 care for the rest of the team, like Jaclyn does,? Mary Kneefel, ’08, said. ?Since FC has not lost a league match in years, there is constant pressure to win, but she relieves the stress. I always look forward to playing doubles with her and can depend on her. Our team won’t be able to replace her next year.?

Blackwell and Kneefel were champions of the South West Sierra League in the Individual Tournament for doubles. Although they played in the same tournament last season and placed second losing to the No. 1 doubles team of Liberty-Madera, they played the same doubles team in the finals and took the gold.

?I love playing with Mary and I couldn?t ask for a better doubles partner,? Blackwell said. ?We have been partners for the past two years now and she is a great player. I depend on her in doubles. She is my rock and her volley and ground strokes are beautiful. There is nothing she can?t do.?

Tennis may not be in Blackwell?s future, but she knows she will miss all of the memories made over the years.

?I have grown up at FCS since kindergarten and it has become a part of me,? Blackwell said. ?I will miss the tennis team experience, players, and of course, Freeman, who has been my coach since the 7th grade.?

Blackwell won the Terminator award in singles against Avenal; the award is given by coach Freeman to the first player off the court with a victory.

“Jaclyn is one of the best all around No. 1 players I’ve had in years,” Freeman said. “She leads the team, she is helpful, relational, and she takes the responsibilities of being No. 1 to heart.”

Although Blackwell will miss tennis she is comforted by the fact that her team will do well next year.

?It is encouraging to know that next year they are only going to be missing me and I will easily be replaced with Mary,? Blackwell said. ?I look forward to seeing how well they will do because the team is going to be strong next year. In some cases, having a younger team means a lot of players get a lot of varsity experience, but all of them have surpassed my expectations, such as the Madera and Coast matches. I am proud to lead such a great team.?

Blackwell and Kneefel will continue to the next round of the Individual Tournament in Porterville on Oct. 28. For the team playoff, No. 1 Bakersfield Christian will host FC on Oct. 31 at 1 P.M.

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