By Andrea Camarena

The success of this year's Exeter tennis program cannot be narrowed down to a single standout athlete.

While Stephanie Ford and Hannah Heuer were the only Monarchs to break into the individual Valley playoffs, the entire team accomplished a historical feat: They swung themselves into the semi-finals for Valley for the first time in school history.

An 8-1 victory over Yosemtie on Wednesday, Oct. 27 sent the Monarchs into the semi-finals. The Monarchs were slated to play Selma on Tuesday Nov. 2 in Selma. A win over the Bears pits the Monarchs against either Lemoore or Sierra on Thursday Nov. 4 in the Valley Finals.

A matchup against the Lemoore Tigers is the ideal challenge for Exeter. The Monarchs beat this year's Lemoore team at the Visalia Invitational in September.

The team will play in six singles matches and three doubles matches on Tuesday.

"I'm real happy with them. I ask them to do something and they do it," said coach Jason Welch. "This is one of the strongest teams I've coached."

Before Tuesday's game, Welch and his team were confident of a Valley appearance.

"I'm anticipating this team winning Valley and in strong fashion, not by a hair," said Welch.

Against Yosemete last Wednesday, the Monarchs won every set except a singles match between Hannah LeFleur and Yosemite's Jennifer Norman to come out with an 8-1 team victory.

The Monarchs were set to play with the same line-up against Selma. Heuer and Ford were divided to spread the singles wins and also played as the No. 1 doubles for the team. No. 2 doubles Eva Rodrigeuz and Hannah LeFleur also split to play in the singles match on top of their doubles competition.

The Monarchs' success stretches into the second branch of Valley competition.

Heuer and Ford competed Saturday in the Valley individual quarterfinals and won both rounds setting them up to return for two more rounds of play this Saturday in Bakersfield.

This surpasses the duo's performance last year when they lost in the second round of play.

"For Saturday, I'm hoping they [Heuer and Ford] step up to the challenge to realize that their potential can be."

"It has been a good year. It keeps me wanting to come back and coach every year."

Last year, Ford and Heuer defeated Stockdale in the first match. They lost to Clovis in the second round.

"It's been fun. I've liked my girls," said senior singles player Brittney Hager who the team lovingly dubs the team mom. (She always brings food to matches for her teammates.)

"This is the only sport I've played and stuck with. The Coach keeps me coming back every year," said Senior doubles player Michelle Landers, "They're the best that's. That's all there is to it. We are the best." Said Landers of her teammates.

"It's the only sport that is my favorite sport. I hope to keep on playing tennis," said Stephanie Ford who would like to continue playing tennis at COS next year.

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