If Shelley Breeden decides to sign her letter of intent with Cal Poly Pomona, the Glendale College tennis team will not only lose its No. 1 singles and doubles player but an inspirational courtside leader.
Breeden, 19, who captured her third consecutive Glendale Public Parks Championship last month with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Deborah Wacker of Glendale High, does not stop dismantling opponents when the college season ends. And if it is financially feasible, she will be swinging the racket for the Broncos next year.
But Bob Mackay, her personal coach for four years, said Breeden's ability to rally her teammates is more powerful than her forehand.
"If you're coaching a team, she's the kid you want," said Mackay, adding that Breeden will be able to adjust to the tougher competition at her new school. "She's a key player in the supporting cast."
Breeden may not mind co-starring next year, but this season she was at center court.
She was Glendale's MVP with a 25-3 record in singles. She also was 20-3 with doubles partner Jennifer Schmidtt. Breeden was selected Western State Conference Player of the Year after winning titles in both singles and doubles in the WSC tournament in April.
To move her game up a notch, Breeden has worked on her aggressiveness at the net and her concentration, which, she said, still wanes at times.
"When I mess up I try to get in a corner by myself and think about it," she said. "I just have to go point by point."
However contemplating her game to excess is a problem that she has worked to correct with Mackay over the past year.
"I've tried to put her on automatic pilot. Just hit--don't think," said Mackay.
In the junior college division of the Ojai Valley tournament in April, Breeden utilized her instincts and her new-found self-esteem. She reached the singles finals against a highly touted field where she faced state champion Julie Slattery. Breeden lost, 6-3, 6-3, however she made it further than even her biggest fan, her father Floyd, expected.
"I know she can play but that's a tough tournament," said Floyd, who, with his wife Barbara, tries to attend every match. "She walked in there with so much confidence and I just about busted my buttons over the kid."
Wherever she plays next season, Breeden will harness her competitive juices for her team.
Mackay said Breeden made the right decision by attending a two-year school instead of going directly into a university.
"Shelley would have gotten swallowed up," he said. "But if she goes to Cal Poly it will be make it or break it."