Ann Arbor Greenhillsl
Midland HH Dow
Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central
(click on Inductee's name to read 'description')
Over the years, the harvest of state championships coming out of the city of Ann Arbor has been nothing short of astonishing.
When the MHSAA state championships first went from the individual format to the flight format in 1977, Gordon Boettcher’s Huron squads were always in the mix. In those early years, he traded titles with Kalamazoo Loy Norrix’s teams, putting together four of them in that era. He garnered one more under the old format.
Then came Pioneer’s Tom Pullen whose teams were so amazingly dominant that some flights went years without being defeated. Tom’s boys won 11 state championships, along with seven for the girls including a title this past spring.
But the success of Eric Gajar’s Ann Arbor Greenhills rivals the above. His kids have not only qualified for state competition all 28 years of his tenure as head coach of the squad but have won an astonishing 14 state championships. Moreover, if they didn’t win the title, they would come close: seven runners-up finishes.
“Eric’s 2018 team was incredible,” says Allegan’s Gary Ellis. “I watched his #4 doubles team do some things with their racquets that many #1Ds would love to be able to do. I was impressed with his team’s play and the way they handled themselves.”
Although mostly a Division 4 school, Greenhills has occasionally had to “play up” in Division 3. As with many of Bob Wood’s University Liggett squads, Eric’s kids were their equals and often stronger than most, if not all, Division 1 teams.
Consider his 2019 team, a squad that competed in D3 that year. Those Gryphons won the state championship by a staggering margin of 39 points to second place Detroit Country Day’s 22. Furthermore, they left perennial power East Grand Rapids in the dust as well. These kids captured seven out of the eight state flight championships, one state final match from a sweep. That squad produced six college level players.
This is dominance that has not often occurred in the flight era of Michigan High School tennis history. Yes, the juggernaut University Liggett squads of Bob Wood swept all flight at the state tournament in 1979, 1980, and 1982 in then-Class C-D and Cranbrook did it in Class B in 1991.
But Greenhills joins an august group of near misses. One was the Cranbrook squads of 1980 and 1984 and another, the Kalamazoo Loy Norrix team in the very first Class A flight championship in 1977. In 1979, East Grand Rapids took every flight except 1S. Tom Pullen has had two of his Ann Arbor Pioneer groups garner 39 out of 40 points.
This puts Eric and Greenhills in some pretty heady company: Bob Wood and Liggett, Don Brown and Cranbrook Kingswood, Charlie Partin and East Grand Rapids, and Tom Pullen and Ann Arbor Pioneer. As the Southerners like to say: “This is walking in tall cotton.”
At the regional level, Eric’s kids have filled the Greenhills trophy case with 26 glorious pieces of regional hardware. Often enough, he has had to present the trophy to himself because he has managed 20 of these events. In addition, Greenhills boys have won 62 Saturday tournaments (Eric has hosted 20 of these events), and 279 dual meets.
“His kids have class and good sportsmanship,” affirms University Liggett’s Mark Sobieralski whose teams have enjoyed some titanic clashes with Greenhills. “They have incredibly intense matches but after it’s over, they get together and talk as friends.”
This is high school tennis as it should be: great matches amidst the best players in the state without the in-your-face animosity that pervades so much of sports these days.
One can only imagine these clashes. Coaches who together have achieved a combined 22 state championships. These are coaches who both have been presidents of the MHSTeCA and now, coaches who are both in the Hall of Fame.
Five of Eric’s players have gone on to play Division 1 tennis and many others have competed at the Division 3 level. He coached Mert Oral, MHSTeCA’s Mr. Tennis in 2021. Over the years, he has overseen a state champion at every flight. Six of his vaunted 2019 squad went on to compete at the college level.
In 2012, Eric was a finalist for National Coach of the Year, an award offered by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Eric has helped out with the very successful girls team under Mark Randolph for the past 15 years and has managed some of their regionals.
He was a founding member of the Ann Arbor Community Tennis Association. He has served on the MHSAA Seed Committee for 15 years, held a position on the equally important MHSAA Tennis Committee for five, and was an original member of the MHSTeCA Claims Committee.
Eric served as our association’s president from 2019 – 2021. “He was great to work with,” says Gary Ellis who, as secretary treasurer at the time, was in a position to know. “He made sure things got done in a timely manner and done well. He did not flinch when the challenging issues came before him and handled them with aplomb.”
“He was president during the beginning of Covid and had to navigate those obstacles which we'd never had to deal with before,” continues Gary. “We were not able to hold our banquet to recognize the Coaches of the Year, so he worked with others to put together a virtual awards ceremony which reflected honor on those recipients. He set up our first virtual board meeting so that the business of the association could be dealt with and all-state and coaches awards could be selected.”
Indeed, the position as president means working at the highest levels of high school tennis administration. Eric served on the State Seed Committee and the MHSAA Tennis Committee. “His opinion and integrity is highly respected,” says Gary. “The association was in good hands during his tenure as president.”
“I cannot imagine a coach who cares more about his players than he does,” says Pamela Spring-Feldeisen whose four sons played for Eric. All four of her kids were captains of the team.
“I have heard him say when referring to his team: ‘They’re people first, tennis players second.’ He does an amazingly positive job of developing these teenage boys into becoming responsible, respectful, and respectable adults.”
Eric fosters a family atmosphere before and during the season. He hosts the team at the family farm where he plays football, water polo, and cards with his players. There are team dinners and family events. “He teaches his players that whether winning or losing, always respect your opponent and make them feel good about playing you,” says Pamela.
Eric took up the game in his native Ann Arbor in middle school with his father and local summer programs but didn’t commit to tennis until later. He played football and basketball at Pioneer as well as three years on the varsity tennis team. He missed out by one year playing for Coach Pullen but certainly had a stellar high school experience. He played 2D in his sophomore year and 1D for the next two, losing only in the state championship match all three years. He was a walk-on for two years at MSU before stepping away to pursue academics, much as Mr. Pullen did decades before when on the U of M wrestling team.
Teaching the game came early. Eric was an instructor at various tennis camps and was on the staff of the Liberty Athletic Club where U of M varsity coach Brian Eisner was the owner. He originally worked there in maintenance to pay for memberships and programs. “Tennis has been in my blood for 40 years,” he says.
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In 1980, Judy Jagdfeld was a physical education teacher in Hartland when she was asked to coach the school’s boys varsity tennis team. “I had no tennis experience and only played for fun myself,” she says. “I was very apprehensive but I decided to give it a shot. Well, you might say it was Love-Love at first practice. I was hooked.”
At the time, she was one of the first females to coach a boys tennis team. Local newspapers made a big deal of that. However, far too often when she got off the bus, the opposing coach would walk past her to shake hands with her assistant.
Judy was a quick study. She took tennis lessons and attended every MHSTeCA workshop. “They were beyond helpful,” she says. She also received support from Livingston County coaches, especially Hall of Famer Bruce Grotenhuis who led the nearby Howell contingent. In fact, her two sons played for Bruce. “When we played Bruce, I only wanted to win 5-2,” she says.
Moreover, Judy got the parents involved. She initiated a parents’ meeting at the beginning of each season and supplied packets with schedules and telephone numbers. It also contained a list of expectations and sign-up sheets for food and drivers. With the help of these adults, she held fund raisers in order to purchase score cards, warm-ups, squeegees, ball hoppers and carts, tents, and tables.
She got involved in tournaments and then started managing these events herself.
Moreover, she got the entire family involved, not just the parents. She would hold Family Day for players, parents, and siblings. It was a potluck and cook out. She would run drills
for the players, and then the parents and siblings, and then they would play matches. “Kiddingly I would say my motto was: Tennis first, fun second, food third.”
Judy also attended Athletic Booster Meetings to successfully lobby for resurfaced courts and the erection of an equipment building. In the summers, she made arrangements for her kids to go to tennis camp. She contacted a local tennis club and sought to have their pros give lessons on her courts. In exchange, they gave her first priority for use of their facility in the spring when the weather was inclement.
She heartily approved the movement from three doubles to four and received the USTA award for her No-Cut program. She routinely carried 35-40 kids on her teams. In all of the years that she coached, Judy never cut a player. She recognized that in her area, there weren’t many opportunities to learn the game before they got to Hartland High School.
She was so welcoming that she once had a kid with one leg try out with a crutch, later getting a prosthetic. By the time she was a senior, this remarkable young lady was playing 3S. Her story was written up in Tennis Magazine and the Detroit Free Press.
After starting with the boys, Judy took over the girls team in 1982. In those days, any of the girls who didn’t play varsity were referred to as “extras” who often didn’t have time to finish their matches once the varsity contest had finished. To rectify this, Judy and another coach organized a Saturday JV match and then recruited other schools to form JV squads. Athletic directors in the area were not thrilled to have to organize home and away matches given the transportation costs but after a period of time in which assistant coaches provided the transportation, she prevailed. Today, there are both varsity and JV tennis teams in Livingston County.
During one of the end of season banquets years ago, Andrea Humcheck got up to address the gathering. “I’m playing No. 1 singles and I wouldn’t have gotten here if our coach had cut me when I was a freshman. I played exhibition in 9th grade and now I’m No. 1 singles.”
“If you give them a chance that first season, some of them will get fired up, enjoy the experience, and work hard,” says Judy. “That philosophy has worked for us.” As a result, Judy was recognized for this policy by the Unites States Tennis Association. Once again, the Livingston County News made a big deal out of it which helped expand the program even more.
This remarkable lady coached 68 teams in the 35 years that she was at the helm. “She is basically a legend in Hartland,” says Doug Moffat who played for Judy from 1987 to 1990 and helped secure a conference championship in his senior year. “I’ve played a lot of sports at various levels including college and by far Coach Jagdfeld is one of the very best that I ever had.”
She was a leader off the courts as well. A revered gym teacher, she directed maybe the most impactful group in the school: the Hartland Varsity Club. It strove to help members of the community in need while teaching kids to start giving back at an early age. They raked leaves at the LACASA in Howell, volunteered at Special Olympics events, and rang bells for the Salvation Army. “My love for community service was inspired by Coach Jagdfeld,” says Doug.
“I had a philosophy from Day One: How can I make this a memorable experience high school sports experience for each player. It was about more than the sport of tennis. It was about being a team, having a commitment, following through, and being there for each other,” she says.
For Judy, it was so very rewarding to take a kid from C to B to A. “It’s the outcome,” she says. “It’s kind of an ego-type thing that you know that you are the reason they know this stuff. To see them take it and use it is a rush. It’s a little addictive. You take that kid who wasn’t able to get the ball over the net to get him or her to winning matches. It is very rewarding.”
“I got to Brighton in 1997 and Judy was already well-established,” says Jeff Miner who was MHSTeCA’s Girls Coach of the Year in 2006. “She was an old school coach who was all about the rules and doing things the right way. She was all about competing but mostly all about the kids and that was the one thing I always admired about her.”
“You’re hired to win and take them as far as you can, but my goal was that I wanted that player and that team to leave my courts having a memory, whether they remembered me or not,” says Judy. “To look back on their high school tennis career and think that was such a great time, such a good part of their high school experience and have a sport they can play the rest of their lives. That was my goal…… besides winning.”
She has worked under nine athletic directors during her 35 years as Hartland’s tennis coach. At one time, three athletic directors in her conference were her former students.
In the 1980s, Kirk Everson was one of them, an individual who eventually taught beside her at Hartland High School. He even served as athletic director for a period. “I remember as a high school student that I already knew that I wanted to go into the teaching profession and it was because of teachers like her,” he says. “She truly had fun doing it and it looked like an excellent job and very rewarding. Her work ethic and compassion made her a hit with kids.”
Judy led the children of so many players that she long ago lost count. She has mentored over 1,000 kids, both boys and girls. She started coaching tennis when Ronald Reagan was president and retired when in her 70s. She has a son who is a tennis pro in a New York suburb.
In 2001, she was “just floored” to find out that two of the four State Coaches of the Year – herself and Bruce -- came from Livingston County. Locally she became a legend in Hartland which now extends all the way to the Genesys Athletic Club in Grand Blanc where her plaque will take its place beside the rest of her now-peers.
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Those familiar with the history of Michigan high school tennis know that kids from H.H.Dow in Midland could play the game well. One has only to point to Kevin Cook who won the Class A singles championship in 1973 under the individual format. Dow was Class A also state runner-up in 1973, undoubtedly due to Kevin’s considerable contribution.
But it took the change from individual to flight format to make it clear that this school produced more than a few individuals. That’s because those early state championships were held at the Midland Community Tennis Center instead of at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium. In those early campaigns, Hall of Famer Joe Haskins put together 10-man squads that finished as high as second in the state, again in Class A. From 1977 through 1983, his Chargers went 78-12. That’s an 87%-win average.
But compare that to the record that Terry Schwartzkopf has amassed in his 16 years of service as Dow’s boys varsity coach and you find that things haven’t changed much. His win-loss-tie total of 274-32-24 while playing in three divisions amounts to 90% victories. His kids enjoyed undefeated seasons four times.
As a math teacher, Terry has kept meticulous records. They reveal that his win-loss record is nothing short of astonishing, regardless of divisions. His teams are 71-14-11 (Win/Tie percentage of 85.5%) against D1 teams. Against D2 squads: 169-16-9 (Win/Tie percentage of 91.7%). Against D3/D4: 41-3-4 (Win/Tie percentage of 93.7%).
Terry’s teams have been Saginaw Valley Conference champions every one of his years as Dow’s coach, going 92-1 (He still moans about that one loss). His Chargers have been regional champions for 14 consecutive years and he has put together 15 more as a Top Five finisher at the state finals. He has been the state champion coach seven times, runner-up once, and a third place finisher three times.
That’s a lot of hardware for the school’s trophy case. As a result, Terry was honored as MHSTeCA Boys Coach of the Year in the fall of 2007, the first season that the boys switched from the spring campaigns. He was named Coach of the Year in 2018 by the National Federation of State High School Associations. (An interesting aside: In that same year, his daughter was National Champion in “Oral Recitation of Poetry.”)
To be sure, Terry doesn’t just inherit quality players, toss out balls, and collect trophies. He develops a deep rapport with his kids.
“Every season on the eve of the state tournament, I hand my seniors personal and individually handcrafted letters of gratitude and encouragement,” he says. “This tradition has become a highlight of each season and a chance to explain to each player why they matter beyond the world of tennis and the impact they leave behind. As I tell my boys, I am proud that they are victorious, but I am continually amazed and beam with pride when I see how they handle themselves and how they are turning into young men.”
He must be quite a writer. See Paragraphs 3-5.
“This year’s team reminds me a lot of the 2009 squad when we won our first title,” says Terry. “We were in rough shape when the senior class came in as freshman (finishing in our worst place since coaching and making the tournament....fifth). This was the second year in a row we took fifth. And then Covid....and all the fallout related with it.
“As juniors, we dealt with so much injury and sickness that our team was not whole until regional and we shocked the state by placing five spots above the predicted outcome, finishing in third. That was when they realized that accomplishing their dream was not a dream, but a realistic possibility.
“I watched this team fight for every point, every win, every chance to get better. There was not a single player on this team that had won their flight at states or been part of a championship team.”
“The ability to win at states is just different than a normal match or tournament...and so the fact that we went from nobody winning anything to three flight champions and a team title is incredible.
“I am extremely proud of these boys and what they have accomplished. They earned this every step of the way and the seniors have willed this team to victory... an incredible lesson and memory to carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Terry grew up in St. Johns, Michigan and played his JV seasons under Hall of Famer Jack Davis. “My brother played in high school and I always looked up to him so it got me very interested,” he says. “Plus, my sixth grade year, I was the last person cut from the basketball team (and they kept a kid in a cast!), so I decided it was time to really focus my athletics in a different direction and began to focus on tennis.”
“I didn't understand the real world of USTA competition tennis growing up in St. Johns, so my training consisted of once-a-week group lessons from Court One Athletic Club in East Lansing and all the local tournaments and competition I could find,” he says. “I used to ride my bike to the city courts and just watch adults play, and then approach them afterwards and ask if I could get their number in order to set up a match. I was always looking for competition and variety.”
Once he was a member of the varsity squad, Terry played under long-time coach Al Werbish. Competing at 2nd/3rd singles, he was voted MVP his senior year. He is justifiably proud of the fact that he was the first player in St. Johns history to beat a player from East Lansing.
Terry started coaching as a volunteer at rival Midland High School while teaching at Dow (He considers this a dirty little secret) under Tom Marquis and Hall of Famer Bill Baum. Eventually he served as the junior varsity coach under Mike Major until he got the varsity job in the second boys season (fall) of 2007. This means 22 years at Dow, 15 as the varsity boys coach.
Terry has recently taken on the task of administering the MHSTeCA All Academic Awards, an arduous task as Jan Gottlin of Riverview and Nancy Brissette of Essexville Garber can attest. It doesn’t just involve sending out certificates – although that is most certainly time consuming -- but also checking the accuracy of applications, many of which are not (ahem!) examples of following directions. And besides, Terry has a day job teaching math at Dow.
“Yes, I would like to bring attention to the number of records held by Dow players,” he says. “However, this program works to give back. We spent multiple years volunteering time and money in order to provide free clinics to underprivileged areas in the tri-cities. We have spent countless hours on beautification projects within Midland. The records, trophies, and competition are a wonderful part of the game of tennis but the real victories come in watching these young men turn into productive men willing to serve.”
When Tyler Courville, the Saginaw Heritage boys coach lost his brand-new father-in-law in the summer of 2021, he called Terry from the hospital room absolutely broken. The man had had a heart attack while driving and passed away as a result of the accident. Tyler was newly married and a college student who found himself in a horrible situation wherein he was expected to know what to do and how to help his family through the disaster.
Terry and Mike Andrews from the Midland Community Tennis Center collaborated to create a fundraising tournament for players and coaches from the Saginaw Valley League in order to help with expenses. Coaches were randomly drawn to play together as doubles team (Terry played with the Midland JV Coach) and players were involved in both singles and doubles tournaments. Some players teamed with coaches.
“The difficult thing that Terry had to do was put together compatible doubles teams,” says former Heritage coach Bob Quinn. “He did a great job with that as a number of these doubles players were state champions.”
“We figured tennis communities always claim to be families so it was time to step up and help our family out,” says Terry. “As it turns out, most schools either had players/coaches involved in the tournament or sent checks from their school in order to help out. “It was really a nice event, brought the league closer together, and raised some money in order to help a family in need.”
At the board meeting in the fall of 2021, Terry declined to be considered for State Coach of the Year even though he was Regional Coach of the Year that season. Instead, he delivered an impassioned tribute to Traverse City Central’s Shane Dilloway that swayed the board’s vote. This speech had much more to do than just consider tennis achievement. It was moving on two levels.
He was named Coach of the Year in 2018 by the National Federation of State High School
Associations. But being in our local Hall of Fame is a bit more enduring in that his plaque will be located not far from Midland and the display includes so many of his colleagues. In terms of more than one criterion, he fits right in.
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A strong case can be made that Saginaw Douglas MacArthur’s Bob Quinn became a force in the establishment of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association in those early days because of the play of Scott Symons and his teammates.
In the mid-1970s, founder Bob Wood was casting about for representation in all parts of the state. He extended invitations to a select group to attend the very first board meeting in July 1977 at Bill Oliver’s Lodge on the shoreline of Houghton Lake.
Why did he ask Coach Quinn to attend? Because at the time, MacArthur had one of the strongest Class B teams in the state.
Why was Quinn’s squad so good? In part, because their 3S, Scott Symons, was so good.
“He was one of the smartest players I ever coached,” says Bob. A senior on the 1979 contingent that Bob has declared “the best team I ever had,” Scott went 23-3, losing only to East Grand Rapids twice and one other player that year. This was his second year at 3S in that his 10th grade year was spent at 2D. He didn’t play his freshman year because he had broken his leg skiing. “Coach Quinn was ticked,” says Scott.
Thus, Bob had a seat at the table of the very first board meeting and eventually became the MHSTeCA’s second president. For his part, Scott went on to play 1S and 1D for Ferris State. In this very small world, he was once matched against Grand Rapids Aquinas’ Mark Sobieralski. Mark went on to become a Hall of Famer, coaching at Warren Mott and presently at Grosse Pte. South and University Liggett.
Scott has taken a bit longer to get to our Hall of Fame. He did not return to high school tennis until his eldest daughter entered high school. Instead, he established Symons Building Specialties, a commercial grade construction company. But in 2000, his daughter made the Nouvel varsity squad as a freshman.
“I never showed up for practice,” he says. “I didn’t want to be a helicopter parent but they had a weekend tournament in Traverse City that was at two different sites. So I asked Tom Lawler, the coach at the time, if he needed help.
“I ended up becoming an assistant coach. I’ve had more fun as the assistant coach with Tom than I did as the head coach. Tom coached for seven years and started the girls program at Nouvel. Tom retired, but I kept coaching.”
Under Scott’s leadership, these kids notched three Top Ten finishes in the 15 years he coached girls despite not having any home courts. In fact, in 2005 they played their matches at five different venues. But in spite of this, the girls earned a total of 10 trips to the state finals, five as regional winners and five as second place finishers.
Scott took over the boys squad in 2015 and advanced them to “states” four times. To be sure, he built the program from the metaphorical ground up. This was a coach who often enough had to start from scratch.
For instance, in 2021 he entered the season in D4 with only eight players. He recruited the rest to fill out the squad but they were, to understate, raw talent. The two who comprised the eventual 4D team were JV football players, one a running back with good hands, the other a linebacker with no fear and both with good footwork. Scott instituted a “crash course” in doubles.
At the start of the season, a 3D player couldn’t even reach the net with his serve but reached the finals at the regional by the end of the season. More importantly, as the season progressed Nouvel didn’t have to forfeit two points and by the end these kids contributed crucial early round wins in regional play – one an avenge match – to send the team to the state finals once again.
“He takes a not-too-talented group of kids and makes them a good team,” says Bob.
In other words, if a coach’s worth can be measured in terms of improvement of his squad from the beginning of a campaign to the end, Scott deserves to be in the Hall of Fame on this criterion alone.
He has had to do it more than once. Scott quit the job twice in previous years but would come back, primarily to keep the kids on the courts. One year, the administration called him two nights before the season began because they couldn’t find a coach. He too often counted it a victory if he could start a campaign with 12 players.
As a result, he calls himself a year-to-year employee. “It’s not fun when you have less than 12 because when you go to a tournament, you can’t win,” he says. “I want to have a chance to win.”
But he has always made it clear that his number one goal is to provide a great experience. “They have to have fun,” he declares. “The best thing a player can say to me is ‘I had so much fun playing on the team.’”
Scott recalls talking with Tim Ryan, the father of a daughter who was a K-12 classmate of his own kid. “We talked about coaching, and I told him the biggest rewards are the times that the kids have and the stories they remember.
“They’re not going to remember the wins and the losses, “I said. “I’m not sure Tim believed me but then one of the girls walked up and sat at our table and started talking about the time we practiced at the (Saginaw) Country Club and a girl hurt her knee and we had to call EMS. They remember.”
When his squad qualified for the state finals in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2021, Scott arranged to have them tour the U of M football facilities prior to the tournament. They got to enter the locker room, sit in the press box, and walk the field. “These guys will play a lot of matches and maybe not remember a lot of them but they will remember the good times that they had with their buddies,” he says.
Fun extends to practices as well. One time Scott’s assistant Mike Boyd, the school’s athletic director and former football coach, found his equipment bag – required to be lined up along the fence with the others – on the roof of the tennis hut. In mock retaliation, he once had the girls warm up in football pads and helmets while local TV cameras recorded the action.
The fun, of course, applies to himself as well. He certainly doesn’t need the job, nor the money. “I’ve been a part of eight of the 11 regional championships they have here in tennis,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how much longer I’ll coach. It’s still fun. When it doesn’t become fun anymore, everyone will know. But I’ve been fortunate. It’s been fun.”
When he talks to his kids, he often starts with the words: “Life Lesson No. 1……” Or “Life Lesson No 2……. “
Then he proceeds to tell them things that their parents have probably already imparted. “But they hear it from a different voice,” he says. “I don’t send messages or texts to parents. They aren’t on my team. I hold the player responsible. Parents catch on.”
Scott is very accomplished player who transferred his expertise and his enthusiasm to a group comprised of too many untrained youngsters when he got them but made these kids much better at the end of a campaign than at the beginning. That’s called growth, the core of any athletic mission statement.
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