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Daily Press Athlete of the Year: Girls Tennis

Lauren Tarver
Serrano, Senior

Gerald Tang
January 3, 2007
© Daily Press, a Freedom Communications Newspaper

Twenty minutes into the tryout, longtime tennis coach Loren Jacobson knew what he had found. He told Lauren Tarver’s parents on the spot that they would read about their eldest child in the newspaper some day.

Sure enough, the headlines did come for Tarver during a stellar tennis career at Serrano High School. The senior enjoyed her finest season this year, in which she led a deep Diamondbacks squad to another Mojave River League title and the second round of the CIF playoffs.

Eight years after Jacobson introduced her to the sport and made that confident prediction, Tarver is the 2006 Daily Press Girls Tennis Athlete of the Year.

The Wrightwood native was still in elementary school the day Jacobson spotted her on the soccer field, wearing bulky glasses and excelling at her favorite sport.

"She was going down the field, and the defenders — she would just go around them almost like pylons and score a goal every time," Jacobson said. "She took to tennis like a duck to water. She was very, very gifted athletically. Her eye-hand coordination was probably just as good as her eye-foot."

That didn't mean Tarver was in a hurry to give up soccer. She continued playing for her club team while training with Jacobson three to four times a week at his Snowline Tennis Academy.

It turned out to be more than enough practice.

As a freshman, Tarver took the MRL by storm, going 22-2 during regular season. Both losses came to Rim of the World’s No. 1 singles player, Claire Grenfell. Tarver upset Grenfell in straight sets in the league tournament final to capture the singles title.

And in case there were any doubts about whether she could handle two sports, Tarver also made the all-CIF first team for soccer. She repeated as MRL singles tennis champion the next year before sitting out her junior season to work on her groundstrokes with Jacobson.

It was the weakest part of Tarver’s game — and still is, the way she sees it.

"I've been practicing those a lot this last year, and I feel like it’s paid off a little bit," Tarver said. "I feel like I can rally better, but I'm still working on it."

It’s easy to see the perfectionist in Tarver. It comes out during matches when she barks at herself after mistakes, even with a 5-0 lead. The intensity might be her strongest asset, as long as she’s able to harness it.

"It’s always a challenge, the ability to keep it together and stay focused," Tarver said. "When I get angry, I can't focus. ... I'm trying to get a little better at keeping more control. I know how fast it can go downhill, and it’s important to keep my game face on and be able to play my best."

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See the full story here.