There have been just four girls to have won the WIAA state singles titles four years in a row.
Hailey Kerker would like to be the fifth.
She seems to be on the right path.
The Camas freshman won everything in sight this past spring and capped it with the 4A state singles title.
For having such a standout — and undefeated — season, Kerker is The Columbian’s All-Region girls tennis player of the year.
Kerker, who began playing tennis “seriously” (as she put it) at the age of 7, was the 4A Greater St. Helens League singles player of the year after winning the district title. She lost just one game in that tournament.
She followed that up by winning the 4A bi-district title without dropping a set and did the same on the way to the state title at week later.
She said the support she received from teammates, Camas head coach Jonathan Burton, and assistant coach Annie Sumpter, helped her this season and especially at state.
“Tennis is such a single sport,” Kerker said. “I’ve never really had a team cheer me on before. In the final, everybody was watching me and that doesn’t really happen in (USTA junior) tournaments so that was really cool.
“I love having the team support, and really liked having my sister cheering me on. Everyone was super supportive and really encouraging.”
Kerker’s twin sister Taryn teamed up with senior Jace Moriki to place fourth at state in doubles as Camas went on to win the 4A state team title.
With two solid tennis players in the family, Hailey Kerker said she’s a singles player and not so much into doubles. But the twins have played as a team in other events, mostly for fun, Hailey said.
“I would say my mindset is very singles,” she said smiling. “I don’t like sharing the court.”
Her experience playing in those big junior events —like USTA Sectional tournaments — was a benefit to doing well at Kennewick, where the 4A state tournament was held.
Kerker had a tight first set in the quarterfinals against Grace Tan of Redmond (who placed fourth) and was able to pull it out 7-5. The second set was a breeze, 6-0.
“I knew what to do because I had experienced it before,” Kerker said. “It helped me stay calm and intense.”
Kerker won her semifinal 6-1, 6-1, and then beat Matilde Varas of Eastlake 6-1, 6-3 for the title. It was a match she said was closer than the score indicated because a lot of deuce points.
To reach a goal of winning four state titles, Kerker said for now she wants to improve her aggressiveness and net play.
“I’m pretty solid at the baseline and with defensive shots,” she said. “I want to get better at finishing points.”
She definitely finished off a lot of them this spring.
Rest of All-Region team
Grace Rudi, sr, and Lauren Dreves, so, Columbia River
2A state champions and key part of 2A state team champion squad; 2A district champions; 2A GSHL doubles team of the year.
Isabella Spencer, sr, and Sofia Spencer, so, Stevenson
2B/1B state champions, and a first for Bulldogs girls tennis; 2B bi-district champions; 1A Evergreen League first-team doubles.
Taryn Kerker, fr, and Jace Moriki, sr, Camas
Placed fourth at state after reaching quarterfinals; 4A bi-district champions; 4A GSHL doubles team of the year.
Emma Lungwitz, fr, Columbia River
2A state semifinalist, placed sixth to help River win team title; 2A district champion; 2A GSHL singles player of the year.
Molly Romanchock, sr, Hockinson
Won three elimination matches in a row to place fifth at 2A state following a third-place finish at 2A bi-district; first team 2A GSHL singles.