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By Shelby Mack/ The Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
A lot of superlatives could be used to describe Gracie Jacobs' play during this past girls tennis season.
However, it takes only one word to get the clear picture of her senior campaign:
The four-year Garces tennis standout went 32-0 in singles and 12-0 in doubles. She capped her season by winning the Central Section singles title.
Jacobs dominated everyone she faced, losing only a handful of games the entire year.
After back-to-back runner-up finishes at the section individual singles tournament, Jacobs was head-and-shoulders better than anyone else this time around, making her the obvious choice to be The Californian's All-Area Girls Tennis Singles Player of the Year.
Jacobs wasn't the only Garces player to bring home a section title.
Her teammates Crimson Hochhalter and Riley Tucker won the doubles championship.
That accomplishment cemented their place as the Californian's All-Area Girls Doubles Team of the Year.
Two weeks before downing Megan Lee of Clovis-Buchanan 6-1, 6-0 in section championship match to cap off her perfect season, Jacobs won a fourth straight Southeast Yosemite League singles title.
She didn't lose a single game during that two-day event.
"It was incredible," Garces coach Barb Johnston said of Jacobs' season. "It's one thing set as your goal to never lose a match, but to actually do it at the No. 1 spot in Division I is pretty remarkable."
Already having helped Garces win a pair of section team championships, Jacobs came into the season needing to accomplish one more thing to put an exclamation point on a brilliant high school career.
The pursuit of winning a section singles title kept Jacobs focused throughout the year despite having to play a plethora of lopsided matches against clearly over-matched opponents.
"I wanted it more than anything because my freshman year I got third and then sophomore and junior year I got second," Jacobs said. "This year was my last chance at winning it so it was really important to me."
As the section's top-returning player, Jacobs faced the stress of being expected to win every time she stepped out on the court.
"It weighed on me a little bit, but I like having a little bit of pressure on me because then I feel like I have something to accomplish," Jacobs said. "It was definitely a good thing that I had a little bit of pressure and it motivated me more to win."
Winning is something Jacobs has been doing for a long time. She honed her craft at an early age, practicing against her brother Nick, who plays at Cal Lutheran.
Jacobs credits Johnston and Stockdale Country Club director of tennis and fitness Hank Pfister for honing her skills.
But she says it's her parents, Chris and Germaine, who have had the biggest influence on her tennis career.
"They have taken me to tournaments since I was eight years old," Jacobs said.
There's another big reason for Jacobs' success, according to Johnston.
"Natural ability helps, but she is a very feisty competitor," Johnston said. "She just does not like to lose. That motivates her a lot. She doesn't even like to lose a game, much less a match. And this year it seemed like she really stepped that up."
The Rams advanced to the Central Section Division I semifinals before being beaten by Stockdale.
That setback was softened, though, when Jacobs got to celebrate an individual title together with Hochhalter and Tucker.
"That was one of the best things I've experienced all four years of playing tennis in high school," Jacobs said. "Because me and Crimson have been on the same team for four years and to finally win individual championships together and end it on that note was really exciting for us."