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Ceres High's Harden leaves behind winning legacy
McKenzy Harden completed her varsity girls tennis career with Ceres High School on Nov. 13.

The senior should gain entrance to the Bulldog Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.

"It would be really cool to get in," Harden said. "I think that's something every athlete would like to do in their lifetime."

McKenzy re-wrote the record books while starring at No. 1 singles during her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years.

She compiled a 161-9 record, won three Valley Oak League titles and MVP awards, and secured four playoff berths. Her teams captured back-to-back conference titles and made three straight postseason appearances.

"I exceeded what I wanted to do," McKenzy said. "I'm really happy."

"She accepted the challenge from day one," said Bryan Harden, Bulldogs' head coach and McKenzy's father. "She never took anyone for granted. She wasn't taught to do that."

McKenzy reigned supreme in the VOL the past three seasons, winning all 97 of her matches.

"She's far and away the best tennis player Ceres High has ever had," Bryan said. "She's right up there, if not the best player in VOL history. I can't think of any guy that's dominated like that all four years. She's worked hard to get what she wanted. It's not likely I'll be fortunate enough to have another player of that magnitude."

"That (team success) means more to me," McKenzy said.

McKenzy accomplished every goal during her senior year.

She captured her third consecutive conference title.

She led the Bulldogs to a share of the VOL team championship again.

She beat Francisca Rojas of Ponderosa (6-1, 6-2) and Yuba City's Hannah Poukish (6-4, 6-2) on her way to a top-4 finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II singles tournament.

She finished the season with a 44-1 mark.

"I couldn't be more tickled for her," Bryan said. "She was rewarded for all the time and effort she put in. She's deserving of all of it."

McKenzy's rise to greatest didn't happen overnight. She benefitted from taking private lessons from Modesto Racket Club tennis pro Mark Fairchilds since the age of 12. She also worked on her game year-round.

When it came time to compete in high school, McKenzy didn't disappoint.

She never let the flu or rolled ankles keep her off the court.

She always exhibited great sportsmanship.

She excelled in the classroom.

McKenzy was all business.

"She takes a lot of pride in how well she does in everything," Bryan said. "She's an overachiever."

"I enjoyed every minute," McKenzy said. "I really didn't get tired of it. There was so many (memorable moments). The VOL finals match against (Ceres High teammate) Angie Prak was really fun."

Bryan returns for his 20th season as head coach in 2010.

It will mark the first time in seven years the Bulldogs' roster will not feature one of Harden's daughters.

Logan, a 2007 Ceres High graduate, was a four-year starter.

"I was able to spend some quality time with my girls coaching over the years," Bryan said. "It means a lot to me."

"It made things extra special to be out there with my family," McKenzy said. "I did something I love with people I love."

McKenzy wants to continue to play tennis in college, preferably in California.

"It's just a matter of where," she said. "I know I want to stay close to home."