If it's (insert any daylight hour here), McKenzy Harden is moving.
On the tennis court. On the dance floor. To and from classes at Ceres High. More practice. More workouts.
"I'm used to being busy," she says. "I don't get too much sleep. No more than six hours."
Harden wastes no time, especially in tennis where she's dominated the Valley Oak League the last four years. Last week, she defeated teammate Angie Prak for her third straight VOL title and finished her regular season with a record of 41-0.
By the way, none of those matches went to a third set. No time wasted, indeed.
Everyone from her father Bryan, the Ceres coach the last 19 years, to Prak insist that Harden is a perfectionist. She likes her grades perfect (4.25 GPA) and her life in order.
"A little bit too much (of a perfectionist)," she admits.
Harden's athletic genes are no accident. Bryan's father was a professional boxer and his brother, Hughson High graduate Rick Harden, manned the outfield for Fresno State. Tina, McKenzy's mother, excelled at basketball and track at Manteca High.
From this tapestry emerges the 5-foot-3 Harden. Add "doesn't like to lose" to the list.
"She's really a lot like my brother," Bryan said. "If it's not perfect, she's not happy with herself."
Harden's goal-mindedness also has been displayed through her many years of competitive dance. Ceres High's bridging of sports with its dance class has resulted in a plus for both activities.
Six members of the Bulldogs' tennis team, along with a few softball players, will compete in the Jamz Nationals in February in Las Vegas. Logan Harden, McKenzy's older sister, has won national titles in hiphop and jazz. Bryan Harden's aunt teaches the class at Ceres.
"It's kind of a big circle for me," Bryan said. "We've been blessed with good athletes at Ceres. That's the thing about dancers and good tennis players. Their footwork is really good."
Yes, it carries over to tennis. In fact, McKenzy can't point to a favorite between tennis and dance. She's very good at both, but she's danced since she was 3. To maximize time for both pursuits, she's given up softball, basketball, soccer and gymnastics.
"I love both of them in different ways. I think it's 50-50," she said. "Working at one makes me do better at the other. I like the leaps and turns in dance and hitting what I call a stinger (a winner from just beyond the service line) in tennis. I like how I can express myself that way and show off my confidence."
Harden and friends rolled through the VOL until a late-season loss to Oakdale resulted in a co-title with the Mustangs. Both teams finished at 15-1, a near-spotless record which is nothing new to Harden. She is 97-0 since her loss in the VOL finals as a freshman.
Her career swings to an end next week at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship, the only barrier she has not cleared at Ceres. Harden twice has won in the first round only to be eliminated by top-seeded players in the quarterfinals.
"I would like to at least make it to the semifinals," she said, "to show that I improved."
The clock never stops. Neither does Harden.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.