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Reigning MVP will lead CHS
McKenzy Harden established herself as the greatest girls tennis player in Ceres High's history in 2007. She compiled a perfect 32-0 record en route to capturing the Valley Oak League singles championship as a sophomore.

"As of right now, she's the best because of her combined record for the last two years," said 18th-year head coach Bryan Harden. "And she has two years left."

"I don't really pay attention to that," McKenzy said. "I just feel like a normal person."

Harden will look to add to her resume in 2008. The junior wants to win all of her league matches and make it past quarterfinals of playoffs.

"I'm going to try to do the same thing this year," she said. "That would be really awesome. I also want to get farther in sections, at least one more round. That's my goal."

"She has a desire to do well in no matter what she does," Bryan said. "That runs in the family."

McKenzy posted a combined record of 80-7 over the past two seasons.

She finished undefeated in the VOL last year, becoming the first Bulldog to win a singles title since 1995 (Lisa Cucinella).

"That was a great experience," said Harden, who lost twice in the playoffs to section champion Ariel Lewis of Vanden.

McKenzy went 46-5 overall during her freshman year.

She placed second at the VOL finals, losing to defending champion Katie Medina of Oakdale. Harden won the previous two meetings.

She also made an appearance in the playoffs.

"Her mental toughness on the court and ability to focus for a long time are two of her strongest attributes," Bryan said. "She doesn't take anyone for granted. She never goes out there with that attitude."

"When I get out there, I feel like I can do anything," McKenzy said. "I never give up. That's what sets me apart from other players."

Over the summer, Harden played more than 20 matches as part of the Modesto Racket and Fitness Club All-Star team. The 18-and-under squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the NorCal championships. McKenzy played singles and doubles.

She also suited up for Team Northern California as part of zonals in Salt Lake City, Utah. Harden filled the No. 4 singles slot.

"She's been working hard," Bryan said.

Asked if Ceres High would contend for the VOL title and qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the third straight year, McKenzy said: "We want to win as a team. It's going to be hard but we can do it."

The Bulldogs return just three of seven starters, including Harden, Angie Prak (junior) and Natalie Flores (senior).

Ceres High graduated singles standout Logan Harden and doubles players Tiffany Ornells, Sydney Featherstone and Christina Villavong.

McKenzy's toughest opponent in league play will be Oakdale's Carolyn Rowley. She could pose a threat to Harden's unbeaten streak.

Every time McKenzy steps on the court, she'll be targeted because she's the reigning VOL champion.

"There's certainly a lot of pressure that goes with that," Bryan said. "You got to be a little lucky too because you're not always going to play your best."

"If I didn't go undefeated, it would be a disappointment," McKenzy said. "But losing is not the end of the world."