To her fellow competitors it must seem like Hayden junior tennis star Brooklyn Hunter has been around forever.
That’s not true, but it’s not a huge stretch either.
“I was probably about four years old when I started,” Hunter said. “We used to play in the street.”
Brooklyn, the youngest of the four tennis-playing Hunter children, credits her mom, Tina, with giving her, sister Paige and brothers Blake and Tommy their beginning in the sport.
“My mom just put us in (tennis) to pick up hand-eye coordination because she heard it helped that,” Hunter said. “Everyone else played it and I started liking it.”
The Hunters took it from there, with Paige a multi-time Class 4A state medalist during her high school career while Blake was a 4A singles runner-up and now a doubles All-American at Washburn and Tommy a four-time 4A singles champion and now teammates with Blake at Washburn.
Brooklyn is the two-time defending 4A singles state champ and will be shooting for her third straight title this weekend at the Walter Blake Tennis Complex in Pratt.
Hunter is 17-0 this season and 54-1 in her career and has not lost since her freshman season heading into the state meet. Hunter won her third regional title last Saturday and dropped just two games in her four regional matches.
Hunter said it’s helped her having older siblings to use as role models as she’s progressed in the sport.
“I think that helps a lot,” she said. “Usually Blake is my go-to if I need help on something. He’s who I normally go to for advice. Tommy usually hits with me and Blake’s coaching me while we’re hitting.”
Hunter has carved out her niche in tennis while also playing a key role for Hayden’s two-time defending 4A Division II state championship volleyball team and helping the Wildcats to back-to-back state basketball berths.
In addition to her grueling schedule, Hunter has had a target on her back in tennis since her freshman season, but Hayden coach Christy Sheetz said Hunter does an exceptional job of dealing with everything in her life.
“You’ll hear other players complain about the weather or the wind or that somebody called a bad call,” Sheetz said. “But Brooklyn never complains and that’s the sign of a great competitor because they can take a point for what it’s worth, even if it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to, and move on and move forward.”
Hunter figures to face a tough test at state this weekend, with eight singles players in the field having between 20 and 31 wins, but Brooklyn said she’ll just concentrate on trying to play her best tennis.
“I just go there and try to play my game,” she said. “Usually I try to figure (the competition) out during the warmup and that’s what I go off of. I don’t usually try to think ahead because then I’ll over-think things. I just try to tell myself that I know how to play and I just need to remember that when I’m playing and not get too nervous because you only can do what you can do.”
Hayden also qualified its junior doubles team or Sarah Comstock and Julia Hammes (23-6) for state, with Comstock and Hammes finishing third at regionals.
The 4A state meet will start at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and resume at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
CLASS 6A AT WICHITA
Washburn Rural will send its entire team to the 6A meet at the Riverside Tennis Complex after winning a regional title last week.
The Junior Blues, who earlier captured city and Centennial League team championships, swept the singles and doubles championships at regionals, with freshman Rachel Osborn (26-6) taking the singles title while sophomore Lauren Pryor and senior Cortlyn Wolfe (27-5) prevailed in doubles.
Rural junior Haley Kucera (22-9) finished second in singles while seniors Maddie Aarnes and Hallie Beard (26-6) finished third in doubles.
The Junior Blues finished seventh in 6A last season and Rural coach Kevin Hedberg said the goal this weekend is to advance as many players as possible to Saturday, which would give Rural’s players a chance to earn state medals.
“It’s about surviving to the second day,” Hedberg said. “It’s a really tough field and and you’ve just got to get as ready as you can.”
Competition will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday and continue at 9 a.m. Saturday.
CLASS 5A AT MAIZE
Seaman is coming off a second-place regional finish and used its balance to advance all six of its players for this weekend’s state meet at Maize South.
Freshman Elise Schreiner (21-7) led the Vikings with a second-place singles finish at regionals while senior Sydnie Crow (19-11) qualified with a fifth-place finish.
The Viking doubles team of sophomore Emma Dowd and freshman Sarah Latendresse (14-14) finished fourth in the Leavenworth regional while sophomore Emma Biggs and junior Dynah Woodman (7-7) were sixth.
The 5A state meet will start at 11:30 a.m. Friday and continue at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Washburn Rural — Singles: Rachel Osborn, fr., 26-6; Haley Kucera, jr., 22-9. Doubles: Lauren Pryor, so., and Cortlyn Wolfe, sr., 27-5; Maddie Aarnes, sr., and Hallie Beard, sr., 20-6.
Seaman — Singles: Elise Schreiner, fr., 21-7; Sydnie Crow, sr., 19-11. Doubles: Emma Dowd, so., and Sarah Latendresse, fr. (14-14); Emma Biggs, so., and Dynah Woodman, jr. (7-7).
Hayden — Singles: Brooklyn Hunter, jr., 17-0. Doubles: Sara Comstock, jr., and Julia Hammes, jr., 23-6.