Girls tennis: Abbey Hamstra looking to get past regional
By Tom Wyatt Post-Tribune correspondent May 31, 2012 11:06PM
For the second year in a row, Kankakee Valley junior Abbey Hamstra is the 2011 Post-Tribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year and poses for a portrait at Kankakee Valley High School Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Wheatfield, Ind. | Scott M. Bort~Sun-Times Media
Abbey Hamstra, Sr., Kankakee Valley (19-2) vs. Kendall Shinn, Jr., Marquette (10-6)
Marina Fernandez, Jr., Angola (21-3) vs. Morgan Smith, So., Bremen (20-0)
Vanessa Madrigal, Jr./Aby Madrigal, Jr., Highland (10-0) vs. Alaina Roberts, Sr./Darby Mountford, Sr., South Bend St. Joseph’s (13-0)
Kaelin Bender, Sr./Nicole Murdoch, Sr., Fairfield (21-3) vs. Marissa Gernian, Jr./Andria Shook, Jr., Plymouth (17-5)
When: Saturday (semifinals, 10 a.m.; championship, 2 p.m.)
Skinny: The doubles match between Highland’s Madrigal twins and South Bend St. Joseph’s has been billed as a potential state title match, with the winner at least a legitimate contender for the championship. Similar to Vanessa and Aby Madrigal for the Trojans, Alaina Roberts and Darby Mountford are the Indians’ top two players. In her fourth straight appearance in individual regionals, Abbey Hamstra seems as if she has her best chance to make her first trip to the state tournament. The Kankakee Valley senior has sandwiched a pair of regional final matches around one semifinal.
Next: Winners advance to state finals, June 8-9, North Central High School, Indianapolis
Updated: May 31, 2012 11:08PM
Abbey Hamstra’s eyes have never strayed from the prize.
The Kankakee Valley senior has had a remarkable high school tennis career. Hamstra has a 73-7 career record and has never lost more than twice in one season.
But one thing has been missing. And that is a trip to the individual state finals.
Hamstra lost in the individual regional last year and as a freshman, just one step shy of a trip to the state finals. As a sophomore, she lost in the individual regional semifinal to the eventual state champion.
“I’ve always had pretty tough draws,” Hamstra said. “But I’ve had my chances. Hopefully, this year I can capitalize on it.”
Hamstra will get one last chance to advance to the individual state finals on Saturday at the LaPorte Regional. She takes her 16-2 record into a 10 a.m. semifinal match with Marquette junior Kendall Shinn (9-6). Angola junior Marina Fernandez (16-3) and Bremen sophomore Morgan Smith (10-0) meet in the other semifinal. The championship is set for 2 p.m.
“She’s been playing really well,” said KV coach Kelli Hamstra, who is no relation to Abbey. “She told me the other day it’s kind of how much she puts into it. And she’s put so much time and effort into tennis. She’s so dedicated and has worked so hard. She’s definitely getting out of it what she’s put into it.”
Abbey Hamstra has been a model of consistency throughout her high school career. But she admits she has been focused on advancing downstate.
“I started off well as a freshman,” Abbey Hamstra said. “My goal has always been to get to state. But that hasn’t happened. That’s helped me stay focused on my goal.
“I think I’ve improved every year. This year, my fitness has really improved. I think that will help this weekend and next weekend (in the state finals).”
Abbey Hamstra’s two losses this season came to two of the area’s and state’s best players — Chesterton’s Bobbi Modesto and Highland’s Vanessa Madrigal. Abbey Hamstra views those losses as positives.
“I think every match is a learning experience, especially losses,” Abbey Hamstra said. “They’re both great players. It helped to remind me that I need to keep working harder. They were good eye-openers.”
With her high school career winding down quickly, she has come to the realization that her next match could be her last.
“I’m hoping to make it a good ending,” said Abbey Hamstra, who will continue her career at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “(My high school career) definitely gone faster than what I expected.”