LAPORTE | Three years is a long, long time to wait.
But for the Michigan City No. 1 doubles team of Ashleigh Ellenwood and Lauren Palmer, the wait was well worth it. The duo advanced to the individual state finals next weekend with a pair of dominating 6-0, 6-0 wins over South Bend Clay in the semifinals and Central Noble in the finals.
Joining the Wolves in Indy will be the No. 1 doubles team from Highland, Liz Quinn and Aby Madrigal. They advanced at the team semifinals tournament with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 win over South Bend St. Joseph.
"We've been playing together as a team for three years now, waiting and working for this opportunity," Palmer, a senior, said. "A lot of hard work and practice went into today, and we finally got what we have been chasing."
Ellenwood, a junior, was pumped at the thought of the Wolves (18-3) representing the Duneland Athletic Conference in Indy.
"There's a lot of pride for us in representing our team as well as our conference," Ellenwood said. "The DAC is a really good conference, and for us to be able to go downstate shows how tough we play up here. This is really exciting."
The two doubles teams will be the only region representation next week at the individual state finals. At No. 1 singles, Kankakee Valley's Abbey Hamstra reached the final round Saturday before falling 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to unbeaten Alexandra Brinker of Penn.
"I played her (Brinker) before in USTA tournament play so I knew what to expect coming in," Hamstra said. "I knew today's matches would be tough ones. This is as far as I have advanced in the individual tournament, so I'm proud of that accomplishment."
Hamstra (17-2) advanced to the finals with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Tabitha Lehman of Westview in the semifinals. Brinker defeated Chesterton's Bobbi Modesto 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the morning round.
"When you get to this level, all of the players are pretty well matched," Modesto (17-3) said after her loss. "It just depends on who has the hot hand that day. I played well, just not quite as good as I needed to."
Whiting's Guadalupe Cornejo and Megan Kazmierski were the last Oilers athletes still playing this postseason. Their season ended in the semifinal round with a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Central Noble at No. 1 doubles.
"We were very proud to represent our school and our conference (GSSC)," Cornejo said. "Obviously we hoped for a win, but it was exciting to make it this far."
After sectional wins over Noll and E.C. Central, the Whiting duo (9-6) had almost two weeks off before Saturday's match.
"We were rusty at the beginning of the match," Kazmierski said. "We started to play better after a few points, but I think we were pretty nervous today. This was a big step up from sectionals for us."