For the Second Year in a Row, Kennedy Harris Brings Home First Place


Brooks Coleman

In her final game, the points were not always easy. “Sometimes there were really long points and really long games where I just had to stay in it and get the ball back,” she said.

Clara Hudson, Staff Reporter

In a match that lasted multiple hours and two sets, sophomore Kennedy Harris came out on top, winning the singles state championship for the second year in a row. 

On Saturday, May 20, Harris faced off against freshman Emily Gu from Crescent Valley High School, who was trying to follow in Harris’ footsteps and earn first place in the singles tournament as a freshman. Harris won the first set with a score of 6-4 and the second set with a score of 6-2.

Throughout the state tournament, the most sets she ever played in a match was two. 

While Harris placed first individually in the state tournament, overall she helped her team bring home second place. 

Heading into the match, Harris dealt with a range of emotions. “Walking into it I was a little nervous because I lost to her a couple months ago, but I knew I had the skills to beat her,” she said. “So I just walked in, confident in my skills and knew what I had to do.”

Being the returning state champion, Harris did feel pressure, but because her opponent had beaten her earlier in the year, Harris knew her opponent was feeling the same. “I think she had more pressure on her because she had beaten me a couple months ago and I think her father and her coach expected her to win,” she said. “So I think we were both dealing with pressure.”

In order to deal with this stress, in between points, Harris would take a few extra seconds to calm down and take a deep breath as a way to reset. 

Throughout the state tournament, Harris was cheered on by many of her teammates including those who also competed in the state tournament, seniors Avery Richards, Gabbi Tassinari, Megan Snyder, Sophia Hauer, and junior Bella Hanna-Barofsky.

Coming back as state champion, Harris said, “I could definitely feel the pressure, but I definitely thought I could win state again.” 

Throughout this season, Harris lost only two matches, one to Emily Gu and another to junior Carissa Gerung from Jesuit High School. Going into the match against Jesuit, she had the belief Gerung was much better than her, but as the match went on, she realized they were really close in skill. “I just realized I’m really close to the next level,” she said.

Having that experience of losing a couple of games prepared her for the final game. “Being able to change my game style, like seeing what was working, seeing what was not working, making sure to just not focus on my weaknesses but focus on the opponent’s weaknesses,” she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Harris won a number of games handily. During those games, she focused on doing what worked for her. For example, if moving her opponent around was working she would continue to do that, rather than try to experiment with other things.

In the championship game, Harris focused on the fact that her opponent couldn’t deal with high-hit balls, rather than focusing on her own unforced errors.

Working towards this tournament, Harris practiced outdoors, which ended up helping her throughout the state tournament as it was both outside and inside. “At Tualatin Hills, there was a lot of wind, so I’ve been practicing more outside and that has helped me prepare for that match,” she said. 

Outside of the high school tennis season, Harris practices all throughout the year. She practices during the week and participates in tournaments throughout Oregon and Washington on the weekends. 

Harris is part of the Academy through the University of Portland, where she practices with other players throughout the week to work and increase her skills. She tends to practice with taller, older players, which helps her in matches as she is able to handle the pace, and if the ball comes at her, she is able to return a lot of balls that other girls her age aren’t able to. 

Along with practicing with more experienced players, the Academy also offers more intensity than what high school tennis offers. “High school tennis is kind of my place to just have fun, goof around, try different things but my tennis academy is where you just really focus and put in a lot of intensity just to get better,” she said.

Looking back at freshman year, Harris felt a big difference compared to this year. Playing this year, Harris “had more experience of being a part of a team and just getting the matches done,” she said.