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Tennis undefeated, playoffs loom

As the ball flies gracefully into the air, its peaceful flight soon will end. Flying at high speeds, the ball slams into the opposing court–game, set, match. Undefeated so far, dreams of a Valley Championship once again soar as playoffs approach.

“Our goal is to win Valley,” Katherine Babcock, ’04, said. “It is not an unreachable goal but it will require a lot of work. We [the girls on the team] are all really close; there is a lot of friendly competition between us at practice. I think that will really help us at Valley.”

George Freeman, tennis coach, seeks perfection from his team.

“We are undefeated so far; that was expected,” Freeman said. “Caruthers has been our greatest challenge. Caruthers has a lot of girls and their girls play really hard. They’ve beaten everyone they’ve played so far except us.”

Freeman sees very few areas that really need improvement in the team.

“Overall, what really needs work are our second serves,” Freeman said. “We need more of a variety; right now they are just low velocity serves. We need more velocity, more spin and more accuracy. Amanda Dring (’06) is our top spin queen; she’s been a real inspiration to our team in how to hit ground strikes.”

Dring, a newcomer on campus, has brought variety to the team. Dring transferred from Kastner, where she began playing tennis in eighth grade.

“My sister, Whitney Wells, ’97, played here and enjoyed it, so I wanted to do so as well,” Dring said. “She and my dad helped me learn how to play, most of my family plays tennis.”

Moving to Fresno Christian has had a dramatic effect on Dring’s life.

“I love it here,” Dring said. “Coming from a public school where it is really heard to maintain a relationship with Christ makes this school seem awesome. You can’t even talk about Jesus or anything [at public school]. It’s really cool how, here, you can be open with your friends and talk about Christ, the teachers pray before class and you can talk to your teachers about anything.”

Freeman has played an influential role in Dring’s life.

“He’s a great coach,” Dring said. “He’s my favorite person. I went through a hard time last year, but this year he has really been encouraging me to work and get good grades and keep up my relationship with Christ.”

The team has visible camaraderie on and off the courts.

“We definitely get along well,” Dring said. “The girls are great and I think we all work together well. I love tennis in general, but I really like playing doubles with Hillary Kell (’05).”

According to Freeman, Kell has been stepping out as a leader this year, as well as Babcock.

“Babcock is improving a lot,” Freeman said. “She’s hitting a lot harder this year. Kell will be the one to step up to replace seniors Babcock and Michelle Smith next year.”

Babcock sees her improvement as a benefit to the team.

“I played a lot with friends over the summer,” Babcock said. “I have improved, but I think we’ve all improved a lot since last year.”

Valley Championship matches have yet to be determined, but Freeman rests assured that his team will perform to their greatest ability.

“Our first matches will probably be against Coast,” Freeman said. “I don’t know much about them since we don’t play them, I don’t know much about the whole coast league. Hopefully we will play Coast in the second round, and Templeton for the finals.”

The team defeated Liberty at Liberty on Oct. 16 and will play at home against Riverdale on Oct. 21. Currently the girls are 14-0 overall and 10-0 in the West Sierra League.

The time and site for individual and team playoffs has not yet been announced.

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