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Girls' tennis captures 4th Valley Championship

Excited fans rushed out onto the court at Copper River Country Club as senior Michelle Smith appeared to hit the winning point during her tie-breaker singles match against No. 1 ranked Keba Baird, ’04, of Templeton. Smith shook her head and yelled that the match wasn’t over.

However, the next point was a winner and a host of students and parents poured back onto the court as Smith defeated Baird, 6-2, 4-6, 7-1, to win the deciding match of the CIF Division V Valley Championship on Nov. 6.

After three consecutive years of playoff disappointment, the girls’ tennis team won all six singles matches and defeated Templeton, 7-2. The victory capped a perfect season as the girls went 18-0 overall.

W.S.L. coach-of-the-year, George Freeman, was pleased at the team’s performance.

“This is the fourth time we’ve won Valley, but we’ve never won 7-2,” Freeman said. “My girls brought an A game today as did Templeton. We’ve lost Valley the last three years in a row to Templeton. This year, for some reason, we prevailed.”

Smith agreed and was very upbeat after the match.

“We really wanted Valley this year, more than the past years,” Smith said. “”I felt very confident going into the finals. I didn’t expect to win my singles match, but I knew we would come out on top because the rest of our team was so strong. I am proud of our team.””

“Today we fulfilled the goals we set from the first day of practice. I won’t stop smiling for a month.”

After the singles all won, the doubles team still played and lost two tiebreakers leaving the girls with a final score of 7-2. Templeton coach Connie Baird praised the Eagles for a strong finals match.

“I knew Fresno Christian was going to win from early in the sets,” Baird said. “The FC girls came to play today and they did an excellent job and won. We just got smoked. I’m very happy for the seniors–especially Michelle. She’s a very strong player and plays a hard game.”

Baird and Smith are the number one players from both schools. Smith now ranked in the top 16 the Valley after defeating Baird.

“Michelle plays my daughter, Keba, every year,” Baird continued. “We have won Valley the past three years in a row and have been battling FC for many years. My hat is off to them and their coach.”

Over the last seven years, FC and Templeton have each defeated each other three times. The tennis team last won a Valley Championship in 1999, defeating Templeton 5-4. The Eagles also beat Coast Union in 1997 and Templeton in 1998.

“”Winning was awesome but it was especially great to beat Templeton because they have beaten us the last three year,”” Smith said.

Other singles winners were Katherine Babcock, 6-4, 6-0; Hillary Kell, 6-1, 6-1; Ashley Sherr, 6-2, 6-0; Amanda Dring, 6-0, 6-2, and Johanna Iest, 6-0, 6-1.

“”Winning Valley was seriously an awesome experience,”” Kell said. “”It felt better than I ever though it would. I can’t stop smiling and I have a feeling I won’t stop for a awhile.””

After both their singles victories, Smith and Babcock lost their doubles match, 0-6, 6-0, 4-7. Kell and Sherr also lost in doubles, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7 while Kim Bimat and Katie Jacobsen won the last doubles match, 6-0, 6-4.

The champions celebrated their victory at Chevy’s restaurant in Riverpark after the game.

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