Girls tennis: Madrigal sisters, Abbey Hamstra reach state finals
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org June 2, 2012 7:08PM
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:13AM
LAPORTE — Once Vanessa and Aby Madrigal got rolling, there really was no stopping them.
Highland’s junior twins overcame a sluggish start to take control in their highly anticipated semifinal match against South Bend St. Joseph’s in the LaPorte individual regional, then cruised in the final to secure a spot in next weekend’s state tournament at North Central.
They will have company from the region in Indianapolis, as Kankakee Valley senior Abbey Hamstra broke through for her first trip downstate by also winning two matches on Saturday.
Cementing their status as serious state title contenders — as if there had been any doubt — the Madrigals (12-0) downed St. Joseph’s seniors Alaina Roberts and Darby Mountford (13-1), the Indians’ top two players, 6-4, 6-1. Given their semifinal triumph, their 6-0, 6-0 win in the final against Plymouth juniors Marissa Gernian and Andria Shook (18-6) was relatively anticlimactic.
“We were expecting a tough match, and it was exactly what we expected,” Vanessa said of the match against St. Joseph’s. “Instead of going into it thinking, ‘OK, we got this,’ we were expecting a struggle. We practiced a lot for this match. We worked extremely hard.”
The Trojans actually trailed the Indians 1-3 in the first set, committing a number of uncharacteristic unforced errors, and 3-4, before seizing command. They won three straight games to close out the set, then dropped only one game — having led 2-0 — in the second.
“That (falling behind) was scary,” said Aby, who won last season’s state doubles title with then-senior Liz Quinn. “We were tight — nerves, I think.”
But the butterflies quickly subsided, with Vanessa crediting Aby with being the calming influence. In the final, they played looser and more freely, drilling winners off groundstrokes and hammering away volleys with regularity.
“I’m just really excited,” Aby said. “Once we got through the first set (against St. Joseph’s), we had to stay in it mentally. We had to push through it. With their height, they’re really scary at the net, so we couldn’t let up.”
Hamstra (21-2) beat Marquette junior Kendall Shinn (10-7) 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals, then Angola junior Marina Fernandez (22-4) 6-2, 6-1 in the final. She had reached an individual regional final as both a junior and freshman, and a semifinal as a sophomore, so making the state tournament in her last go-around was especially sweet.
“It feels awesome,” Hamstra said. “I’ve been waiting for it every year, so it’s definitely nice to be going to state as a senior, my last year.”
Hamstra was tied 2-2 in the first set against Fernandez, an exchange student from Spain, then proceeded to lose only one game the rest of the match; she reeled off five straight games to close out her special win.
“I tried to establish myself as the more consistent player, and that I could stay out there longer,” Hamstra said. “After the first five games, I think I showed I was the steadier player.
“I didn’t know much about her, and sometimes facing a player like that can be tough. But I held it together mentally.”