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Building Blocks
Scott & Hedegard helped lead TWolves to prominence
2008 Manteca Bulletin All Area Tennis Team
Players of the year: Michaela Scott & Tori Hedegard, Sr., Sr., Sierra.

No. 1: Sina Thimm, Sr., Weston Ranch
The German exchange student was fantastic for the Cougars, helping lead Weston Ranch to a number of unexpected wins. Thimm finished the season 22-13 and was named to the all-VOL first team.

No. 2: Ann McFerran, Fr., Sierra
McFerran was a quiet force for the upstart T’Wolves, finishing the season 21-14 and collecting all-VOL second team honors. McFerran was pivotal in the T’Wolves’ win over Sonora, the upset of the VOL season.

No. 3: Michelle LeLaurin, Sr., Sierra
LeLaurin had an unenviable task of taking on the league’s best players during the second half of the season and stood up to the challenge, finishing 18-18 overall and providing the T’Wolves with consistency at the top.

No. 1: Jena Anderson & Stephanie Vanni, Jr., Soph., Sierra
Incredibly, Anderson and Vanni started playing doubles together late in the season, but did enough during that stretch to open a number of eyes around the league. Anderson and Vanni went undefeated during the regular season, finishing 8-0 and made it to the third round of the VOL doubles tournament, the only area tandem to do so.

No. 2:
Alyssa Wegner & Gigi Sellers, Sr., Jr., East Union
Wegner and Sellers were one of head coach Julia Bylow’s most consistent performers this season, helping EU rebuild in much the same way Scott and Hedegard did at Sierra. For their efforts, Wegner and Sellers were named to the all-VOL honorable mention list.

Honorable Mention

Kyrie Belme, Sr., East Union
Mona Ballagan, Sr., Sierra
Nicole Osborn, Sr., Manteca
Shalane Jackson, Fr., East Union
Klasey Kachalkin, Soph., East Union
The Sierra High girls tennis program took a number of steps forward during the 2008 season, finishing 9-5 in Valley Oak League for a respectable fourth place finish in a conference dominated by Ceres, Oakdale and Sonora.
Besides a record turnout of players, probably the program’s most important step, the T’Wolves went undefeated in area play, winning all six matches against Manteca, East Union and Weston Ranch, picked up two more wins over Central Valley, and pulled off the upset of the season when they knocked off Sonora, 3-2, in the second half of league.
The win was such a pleasant surprise that Oakdale coach Judy Vejar personally thanked Sierra head coach Arabella Whitlock for knocking off the Mustangs’ heated rival during the VOL singles tournament.
Not surprisingly, Whitlock split VOL Coach of the Year honors with Vejar.
And while the T’Wolves as a whole had a number of highlights throughout the year, the brightest was the season-long performance of Michaela Scott and Tori Hedegard, Sierra’s No. 1 doubles tandem.
Scott and Hedegard finished the season with just three losses, all to Sonora’s No. 1 doubles pair, and collected 20 wins along the way.
For their efforts, Scott and Hedegard were named to the all-VOL second team and are the 2008 Manteca Bulletin All-Area Tennis Players of the Year.
“Obviously, Tori and Michaela are two quality individuals,” Whitlock said. “Tori is a very outgoing team leader. She’s very spirited and very vocal with her teammates. Michaela is more of a quiet spirit — she’s very focused, especially in school where she gets very good grades.
“Both have good morals and are a great example to younger players.”
They are also very good friends, which makes them even better partners on the tennis court.
The doubles game is one that requires constant communication between teammates and a lack of ego, as both players must recognize their individual strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to play together as a single unit.
“You have to trust each other a lot,” Scott said. “Since we know each other, it was easy working together. We didn’t get frustrated with each other, we could talk to each other, it was like, ‘Focus, don’t get mad, let’s just play like how we know we can.’ We would never get frustrated or out of our game.”
Said Hedegard: “In doubles, you have to be able to know your partner. You have to know whether or not they can get to a ball, or if you need to get there. If your backhand is better than hers, then take that backhand. There’s lots of communication that goes into it.”
Of course, the communication between Scott and Hedegard wasn’t built exclusively on the tennis court.
When asked about the relationship between themselves and Whitlock, both Hedegard and Scott sported ear-to-ear grins.
“She’s so much fun,” Hedegard said. “We had the best time with her. The van rides were the best, definitely.”
Said Scott with a chuckle: “What happens in the van, stays in the van. No, she knew what we could do, and she always tried to motivate us and push us. She wouldn’t let us get down on ourselves, and that helped.”
During the VOL doubles tournament, Scott and Hedegard were ousted in the first round against Oakdale’s Iris Quiroga an Elise Derby, the Mustangs No. 2 and No. 3 singles players.
The loss didn’t put a damper on what Scott and Hedegard were able to accomplish during the season, but it was a reminder to the rest of the league that letting singles players participate in a doubles tournament after not participating in doubles play the rest of the season, presents some inherent flaws.
“They have a chance to play in the singles tournament,” Scott said. “So it’s kind of unfair to us, because that’s our first chance at it. We could’ve played in the singles tournament, and I’m not saying we would’ve done better, but it doesn’t seem fair. They played singles the entire season.”
It was the second straight season that Hedegard was bounced from the doubles tournament by singles players.
“I got frustrated at the end of the match, because the exact same thing happened to me last year,” Hedegard said. “When I was paired up with Mona (Ballagan), we played (East Union’s) Amanda Baker and her partner. They were No. 1 and No. 2, we were seeded, they weren’t and they kicked us out of the tournament.”
Said Scott: “It was unfortunate, but we had a good season. It was definitely sad though.”
While both Scott and Hedegard will move on to college next year, both were very excited about Sierra’s chances to improve on 2008 in the future.
Jena Anderson and Stephanie Vanni both return next season to lead a group that also features fellow all-VOL performer Ann McFerran and a number of underclassmen who will get their first chance to start next year.
“There’s a lot of girls in the lower levels who are coming up,” Scott said. “They did well at the novice tournament, next year we’ll have a good year.”
Added Hedegard with a smile: “And Jena and Stephanie, our girls. But, you know, they’ll have big shoes to fill.”