A year ago, senior Sammi Fremont wasn’t even playing varsity tennis at Hawken School in Chester Township. But one year later, she and her partner, junior Ellie Faber, won the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division and then surprised the field by winning a sectional championship – as an unseeded team – and narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament.
“With her partner, she did something that I’ve never seen before,” said coach Brian Smallwood, in his ninth season of coaching the Hawken’s boys’ and the girls’ teams. “They won the sectional unseeded.”
Those performances earned Fremont the Cleveland Jewish News-Buffalo Wild Wings Warrensville Heights Player of the Week.
“We came into CVC’s and were on fire that day,” said Fremont, a captain. “At sectionals, we were unseeded. We had beaten two of the seeded teams (during the season), but people didn’t think we were good enough (to be seeded).”
At the sectional, Fremont and Faber had plenty to prove, and they did. They went 5-0 to win the 31-team sectional, beating the first, second and fourth seeds. People took notice and for the district, they were top seeded, where they came within one match of qualifying for the state tournament.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Fremont, who lives in Pepper Pike.
She attributes her success to several things.
“Neither of us ever let anything get under our skin, even when we’re losing, we’re always fighting,” Fremont said.
Fremont played with several partners during the season. When she played with Faber, it was as second doubles until the postseason when they played first doubles.
“Kind of like a rough season overall for us as a team,” she said. “We had one player who couldn’t play because she transferred, another player got injured, so we kept switching up the lineup. Me and my partner were typically playing second doubles and then for CVC’s, we were playing first doubles and we only played first doubles once.”
Fremont said her biggest asset on the court is her “fight.”
“It’s not even a technical skill,” said Fremont, who is a member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike, is the leader of the Jewish Affinity group at her school, was in icnext and also a member of the Maurice Saltzman Youth Panel. “The fact that I keep pushing no matter what.”
Smallwood had nothing but praise for his doubles team.
“The great thing about Sammie is she comes up big in big situations,” he said. “Her partner does, too. They have not been given the respect that they should as a team and they used that to their advantage. The beauty of what they’ve done is they’ve played phenomenal, exceptional tennis, and I’m really proud of both of them.”