BANGS — Freshman Jessica Clark has found her niche. As a young tennis player starting varsity, Clark finished her first season with an 8-3 record.

According to Coach Tony Mathison, Clark’s performance was remarkable.

“Considering she came out for the team at midseason, she made up for lost time by completing all drills asked of her and by trying new techniques exactly the way they are coached.”

Heading into the first dual meet with Santa Anna, Clark said fear set in.

“I was nervous and scared,” she said. “I knew I was playing good, competitive tennis players.”

After winning both sets, 6-0 and 9-8, Clark felt relieved.

“After I won those two matches and started winning a few more, I started to calm down.”

Finding an interest in tennis at 13, Clark — who is now 15 — said tennis is her passion.

“I love this game. I practice at Coggin and Allcorn — or anywhere I can find a tennis court. I like to compete against the best. It tests how good I can be.”

Clark took her undefeated season record of 4-0 into the Santa Anna tournament, where she was defeated for the first time.

“I know I had played hard, but I was really upset after I lost that first time,” Clark said. “I realized then that I needed to spend more time practicing and talking to the coach so I could figure out what I was doing wrong.”

Mathison said Clark’s ability as such a young player was evident during the recent meet in Brady.

“Jessica established herself as one of the best freshman players in district 6-2A, by defeating a Grape Creek opponent to advance to the quarterfinals. After losing the first set, 1-6, she bounced back and won the second set 6-3. In the match deciding set, she won a hard fought contest, 6-4.”

Mathison added the match victory took two-and-a-half hours to complete, one of the longest matches of the meet.

Although Clark’s season ended while facing her second opponent in the quarterfinals, Mathison said he is proud.

“Her work habits are great, plus, she gets along well with her teammates. Her won-loss record, as a freshman, indicates her potential to advance to the Texas State Championship Tennis Meet before she finishes high school. In my opinion, the one word that best describes Jessica Clark is ‘winner.’”

Citing Roger Federer and Maria Sharipova as her favorite players, this fan of world geography and art said she has her future “somewhat” mapped out.

“I would love to be able to attend Howard Payne and play tennis there,” Clark said. “I would like to turn pro, but if I don’t, I would like to become a dentist and live in the Bahamas.”