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October 24, 2007 > John F. Kennedy High School of Fremont ends 70 match losing streak

John F. Kennedy High School of Fremont ends 70 match losing streak

Submitted By Bill Patton

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Kennedy beat Newark Memorial High, 4-3, to end Kennedy's 70 match Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) losing streak in girl's tennis. JFK's last win was in Oct. 2001. The team had a 3-5 record in 2001, when they lost the final four matches of that year, then failed to win a match over the next six straight seasons. Two graduating classes did not win a match during their four years in MVAL play at Kennedy.

The key to this year's success is leadership and teamwork. Team Captain, Lisa Cao, recruited a coach, and helped coax a top ranked USTA (United States Tennis Association) junior player attending Kennedy, Giuliana Olmos, to come out for the team. Cao is also the driving force behind a fiercely loyal and unified team.

The first time Kennedy played Newark Memorial this year, they lost 6-1, with Cao being the only winner at #1 singles. Things looked dismal, but adding Olmos helped start the turn around. However, victory was not assured. There was a lot of work to do to find two more points, in addition to what looked like a lock at #1 singles with Cao, and a very good chance of winning #2 singles with Olmos.

In the match against Newark, Veronica Wu and Irina Badulescu played their best tennis of the season, with Wu winning the clincher in a tight second set. When Wu won her match point, the team mobbed her as they were incredibly excited about ending the streak. "We knew it was going to be closer, and we didn't really talk much about winning," dead-panned Coach Bill Patton, "We just focused on what we normally do, attitude, effort and TEAM. Winning takes care of itself if you focus on the task at hand. However, we did have this date circled on our calendars."

Olmos, a Kennedy freshmen sensation, has recently won a USTA Junior Championship event in the Girl's 18 and under portion of the Northern California Section. She also has a very high National Ranking in the 14 and under group. Olmos has a dream of playing at the highest level while also inspiring Latino kids to play tennis. "We appreciate that playing on the team is a way for Giuliana to give back to the sport of tennis, the school, and her community," beamed Patton. "She could have easily blown this whole thing off, but I want to make sure that her impact as a positive force is accentuated. She is a sweet kid, a tough competitor, and has extremely high goals. How can you not support that?"

Cao also played a role in smoothing Olmos' transition onto the team. The Kennedy Girls Team's handling of this unique situation acts as a model for the world of high school tennis, which is vastly different than the world of USTA Junior Tennis. Many teams choose not to allow their players to work on their game outside of practice.

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