By Andrea Camarena

For the first time in Exeter Union High School history the Monarchs tennis team tore through the semi finals and into the Valley Championship match last week. Just to make the season a little more impressive, the girls took the title.

But Exeter didn't just fall into the victory. After demolishing Selma in Bear territory during the semi-final match-up, the Monarchs travelled to Fresno to come out just above the Fresno High School Chieftans in a record setting 5-4 Exeter win.

The Lady Monarchs took 4 of 6 singles games against Sierra in Fresno on Thursday, Nov. 4. Stephanie Ford and Hannah Heuer gripped a Monarch victory when they beat Sierra's Kaelin Huebner and Emily Benson in the lone doubles victory for the day. Heuer and Ford won in two straight sets, 6-3 and 6-0. Ford and Heuer each took wins in the singles games as well over Huebner and Haley Blanchard.

Eva Rodriguez and Shea Cosart also added wins to the Monarchs tally in their singles sets. Rodriguez finished up in three games, 7-5, 4-6 and 7-5 while Cosart did it in two, 7-6 and 6-2.

With an 11-3 record the Monarchs blew past their league opponents all this season with the exception of talent-stocked Immanuel. Exeter had an abundant talent pool of its own this season though.

The Monarchs established its power duo last season when coach Jason Welch paired up junior Stephanie Ford with Sophomore Hannah Heuer to fill the No. 1 spot on the Monarchs' doubles courts.

Ford and Heuer returned this season with a sharper edge than they boasted in 2003. The two were the only Monarchs to make it into the post-season individual tournament. The two lost in their third match-up of the tournament and fell in two straight matches to a pair from Clovis, 2-6 and 1-6.

The team also found success in a new addition to the team this season. Eva Rodriguez, in her first year of tennis, made her way to the top of the singles team to be seeded third in the East Sequoia League tournament behind Alex Siemens of Immanuel and Denise Elrich of Dinuba.

The Monarchs were able to dominate their league competitors this season not merely by riding on the success of their top players. Exeter took an edge over their opponents by way of spread wins on the team. The No.1-No.3 players in both singles and doubles came out with wins in almost every matchup this season.

The abilities of each player on their squad sent the team into a Valley birth when they sealed a victory over Selma in the Semi-Finals on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The Monarchs took the win when Stephanie Ford's singles matchup against Selma's Natasha Brar put the fifth win up for Exeter and smashed Selma's chance to come back.

"The girls came out to play today. They played the best tennis that I've seen out of these girls all season," said Welch after the win on Tuesday.

Hannah LeFleur, Brittney Hager, Cosart and Heuer all took singles wins before Ford stepped off the court with her game-winning set.

In a historical event for EUHS, the Monarchs will celebrate their first Tennis Valley Title in a "Valley Rally" on Friday, Nov. 12 at the Exeter campus.

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