All season long, the Woodstock girls tennis team knew it could count on Katelyn Hackett.
The junior singles player consistently scored for the Lady Wolverines and helped lead the team to the first state quarterfinal appearance in program history.
“Coming into this season, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” Hackett said. “We lost some really good players. I thought that was going to be pretty detrimental for our season this year, but we managed to scramble together a team. We just wanted to make it the best we could with what we had.”
Hackett led the run after taking on a new role.
The 2019 Cherokee Tribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year grew up playing in singles tournaments. She played doubles in her first two years for Woodstock before moving to No. 3 singles as a junior.
“At first, I wasn’t expecting to play line 3 singles,” Hackett said. “I didn’t know where I was going to be, but I realized I kind of liked it. I had a lot of fun playing doubles, but there was something about playing in the final match every time.”
Hackett said she enjoyed being the last one on the court in every match, particularly when the match was on the line. She also enjoyed the freedom singles play gave her to explore every aspect of her game.
“I definitely think my backhand is my stronger shot,” Hackett said. “I love to play at the net. I think I’m solid up there, so it’s always more fun when I can do these things. I really just like being able to use the whole court and finding different ways to try to win.”
Also driving Hackett was a competitive streak she said she developed as a young player. While she said it was important for her to be nice to all of her opponents, she did not always take it so easy on herself.
“I’m competitive with myself,” Hackett said. “I never yell at my opponent, but I can be pretty hard on myself. I’ll yell at myself, but I always try to be super nice to everyone else. It can be tough when you get excited in those big matches.”
Hackett did not have too many chances to be angry with herself this season. She won her first 12 matches of the year -- including a win against perennial state power Walton -- and hardly let up as the season progressed, finishing 19-3 overall with a 5-0 mark against county competition.
“The key this year was just having more confidence,” Hackett said. “We were less cocky, though. When we started winning some matches at the beginning of the season, I think we realized we had a chance to be pretty good. We just kept doing the same things, though.”
With a state quarterfinal appearance now in the books, Hackett said she wants to continue to set new standards for the program as a senior. Woodstock will once again have to replace some key players -- including its other two singles players -- but Hackett said she is once again ready to step into whatever role her team needs.
“I’ll probably have to move up, as much as I would like to stay at No. 3,” she said. “It was cool to be relied on, especially when I could pull it through. I want my team to be able to rely on my wherever I play, though. We’re losing our other two singles players, though, so I’ll play wherever they need me.”