With defending champ Lyndsay Cooke (Bakersfield Christian) and three-time Bee Player of the Year Gabrielle Gatewood (Redwood) now in college, the path is clear for a new Central Section girls tennis singles champion.
And area coaches point to one player as the favorite: Bakersfield Christian junior Chelby Cooke, Lyndsay's sister and the section singles runner-up last season.
"She's a better player than anyone we've seen," Memorial coach Andy Sorensen said. "You watch her play, and she's a very determined little soul, no nonsense."
A notch below Cooke, according to area coaches, is a group of players including East's Nancy Ramirez, Garces' Gracie Jacobs, Bullard's Pookie Gonzalez, Memorial's Robin Draper, Buchanan's Kathryn Ashford and Clovis West's Tayler Piearcy.
"That second tier of players is very good and closely bunched," Buchanan coach Jonathan Slater said. "But I don't see any of them challenging Chelby at this point."
The section individual tournament begins Oct. 30.
FHS Wall of Champions
A distinguished list of 10 will be inducted into Fresno High's Wall of Champions on Wednesday at Pardini's.
They are: Walt Byrd Sr. (1932 graduate), Toby Lawless ('36), Ted Wills Jr. ('51), Mike Noakes ('57), John Alstrom ('60), Jack Erdman ('66), Anthony Washington ('76), John Hoover ('80), Rene Polanco ('82) and coach Irwin Ginsburg.
Tickets are $40 for the fourth annual event that will begin with a no-host cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. dinner.
Details: (559) 485-5500 or go to FresnoHighAlumni.com.