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All-Region girls tennis: Hailey Kerker, Camas

Junior finished third at state and helped Papermakers to the 4A team title

By Jeff Klein, Columbian sports staff
Published: June 1, 2024, 6:05am

It’s hard enough to win one state tennis title, let alone two.

Three titles doesn’t happened often. And it’s rare air to just get a chance at four.

Four individual state titles may no longer be in the cards for Camas junior Hailey Kerker, but four team titles is still in play after the 2024 4A state tournament. Kerker came in as the two-time defending singles champion but had to settle for third place this time around.

Still, her nine points helped the Papermakers to a third consecutive 4A team championship.

Kerker, The Columbian’s All-Region girls tennis player of the year for a third time, had another dominating season on the courts even if it came just short of a third state singles title and spoiling a long-term goal of trying to win four in a row.

“I think there’s pressure, but a little more last year because I was going for two, if that makes sense,” Kerker said of being a defending state champion. “Like when I play club, there is just as much pressure, so I think I’m pretty good handling that.

“But there’s nerves in any match.”

Those comments came after winning a third 4A district title without dropping a set back in mid-May. She then went on to win the 4A bi-district title on her way to state in Kennewick, where her first two matches were a breeze.

The margin of victory or defeat can be small in tennis. One break, one unforced error and suddenly the match can be over just like that.

In the state semifinals against Mia Yoon of Newport, Kerker lost the first set 6-1. She regrouped to win the second set 6-3, but then would lose a heartbreaker in a third-set tiebreak 8-6.

Again, Kerker regrouped and stormed to a 6-0, 6-1 win in the third-place match over Kayla Duong of Puyallup. In her three wins at state, Kerker dropped just four games.

During the season, Kerker got some advice from a former local four-time state high school champion in Skyview High alum Sammi (Hampton) Ekmark, who was state champ from 2012-2015 and went on to play at Arizona State.

They even hit a few tennis balls along with Kerker’s sister Taryn and Sammi’s husband Andrew.

“Sammi is the best! The main thing she said is to be confident in your game,” Kerker said. “Like, ‘I’ve done this before and know what to do so I just need to rely on my game.’ “

Kerker is looking to a summer of USTA tournaments. As of May 29 for girls 16-and-under, she has a ranking of No. 6 in the USTA Pacific Northwest Section, is No. 1 in the Northern Oregon region and No. 233 nationally.

One other piece of advice Kerker received from Ekmark: “Just know I’m a good player and to use that. Sammi was very wise.”

ALL-REGION TEAM

SINGLES

All-Region player of the year: Hailey Kerker, jr, Camas

Yvonne Yin, so, Camas: Placed fourth at 4A state to help Camas win team title, 4A Greater St. Helens League first-team pick in singles.

Jenny Serebriakova, fr, Columbia River: Placed 4th at 2A state after winning the 2A district title, runner-up in 2A GSHL, 2A GSHL first team.

DOUBLES

Taryn Kerker, jr, and Fiona Zou, sr, Camas: Defending state champions earned a runner-up finish at 4A state after placing third in the bi-district tournament. They were 4A district champions and 4A GSHL doubles team of the year.

Brynn DeSantis, sr, and Lexi Frost, jr, Mountain View: Placed 7th at 3A state, were the 3A bi-district runners-up, and 3A GSHL doubles team of the year.

Annie Morgan, so, and Sydney Dreves, jr, Columbia River: Dreves, a junior, and Morgan, a sophomore, were 2A state runners-up to help River win team title. They also won 2A GSHL and bi-district titles, as well as being 2A GSHL doubles team of the year.

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