She's qualified because: Capped a perfect season (16-0 in singles, 6-0 in doubles) by teaming with Pookie Gonzalez to defeat defending champions Kathryn Ashford and Megan Lee of Buchanan 6-3, 6-2 for the Central Section individual doubles championship. Jaramishian, the County/Metro Athletic Conference Player of the Year, scored key singles victories over the No. 1's at Buchanan (Ashford), Clovis West (Tayler Piearcy) and Memorial (Sydney Perotti).
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Nothing personal, but Bullard High's Claire Jaramishian didn't want to be second fiddle to anyone on the tennis court.
It's just not in her nature.
So after playing No. 2 on the ladder as a junior, Jaramishian went to work last offseason with a major challenge -- unseat Knights' No. 1 Pookie Gonzalez, The Bee's 2010 Co-Player of the Year who is widely regarded as the Fresno area's strongest tennis player.
"I have a mentality that I can always do better," Jaramishian said. "So if there is someone ahead of me, I always want to give all I can, 200%."
Jaramishian worked with private coaches, played in the toughest tournaments and scrimmaged against as many male players as she could in an effort to strengthen her game.
Her efforts paid off in a perfect season (16-0 singles, 6-0 doubles) that was capped by a victory along with partner Gonzalez in the Central Section individual doubles championship. Jaramishian is The Bee's 2011 Player of the Year, edging Gonzalez and Buchanan's Kathryn Ashford for the honor.
"It was her desire to be better," Bullard coach Daren Carter said. "She knew she she could be better. She's very dedicated, always gives 100% and plays every day. That's what it takes to be a top player."
After winning a challenge match against Gonzalez in the preseason and two more during the season, Jaramishian played No. 1 until the second half of County/Metro Athletic Conference play, scoring victories against the No. 1's from Buchanan (Ashford), Clovis West (Tayler Piearcy) and Memorial (Sydney Perotti) along the way. Gonzalez, who also plays volleyball in the fall, got the job back by winning a challenge match before the second half of CMAC play and held onto it through another challenge before the team playoffs.
"Going in, they knew they had an opportunity to battle for that spot, which was really good," Carter said. "Anytime you know you are battling for 1-2, it keeps them both very serious and competitive. They are both very similar and both very good players."
But despite their rivalry for the No. 1 spot in singles, the two joined forces in the individual postseason, winning the CMAC doubles title en route to earning the No. 2 seed in the section playoffs behind Buchanan's Ashford and Megan Lee, who were the defending champions.
In the final, Jaramishian, with her smooth left-handed strokes, and Gonzalez, with her powerful right-handed shots, downed Ashford and Lee 6-3, 6-2, ending their 25-match winning streak over two seasons.
"No matter what, we were both part of the Bullard tennis team," said Jaramishian, the CMAC Player of the Year. "I never let me beating her, or her beating me, get in the way. I always had respect for her. We were the perfect doubles team."