Rosentreter, Hammond oust higher seeds in historic achievement for school
By Jason Arndt
Halle Rosentreter and Gwen Hammond are strong singles players for the Wilmot Union High School girls tennis team.
But when Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association formally announced plans to hold a State Tournament, Panthers coach Lisa Obertin believed they would become a potent pair and compete for a state championship as a doubles team.
Putting them together, however, was a difficult maneuver for Obertin because of a limited schedule and uncertainty related to COVID-19.
“We were playing under a COVID-19 season with limited matches. It made it difficult to even pair them up playing doubles in a complete team format,” she said. “It was a game-changer, when the state tournament was happening, and we did convert them to a doubles team knowing they would be highly successful playing doubles together.”
The duo spent their limited season playing in singles flights before joining forces.
Obertin’s hunch certainly paid off Oct. 17, when the doubles team captured a WIAA Division 1 state title, which is the first in school history.
Rosentreter, a senior, and Hammond, a sophomore, entered the state tournament seeded eighth and ousted higher ranked pairs to set up a title match with Hartland Arrowhead’s Hannah Cady and Anna Long.
After winning the first set, 7-5, Rosentreter and Hammond each admitted tears began welling up in their eyes, but they remained calm, taking the second by a 6-1 score to finish their season 12-2 overall.
“In the last game, I started tearing up a little bit,” said Rosentreter, who missed two full seasons because of a back injury. “I just kind of took some deep breaths and told myself to calm down, it is just like any other match.”
Hammond, who said she has yet to process the reality of making school history, acknowledged she was on the verge of tears multiple times in the final stretch of play.
“I caught myself wanting to cry a few times towards the end of it,” Hammond said.
“It is hard to believe we are the only team in (school) history to win it, but I think we made people proud.”
Rosentreter, meanwhile, joins her father, Paul, who won the 1984 state boys basketball championship for the Panthers, in the school record books.
Rosentreter immediately hugged her father after the win. She described making history as an “amazing” feeling.
“It is a really big accomplishment to come and play at state, represent our school and make history at our school,” Rosentreter said. “We were just excited to be here and we would have been happy either way.”
Ousting top seeds
Rosentreter and Hammond qualified for the state meet after they finished third at on Oct. 7 sectional hosted by Kenosha Tremper.
The doubles team, which entered the state tournament seeded eighth, earned a first round bye before defeating Westosha senior Emily Wermeling and junior Alexandra Wells (12-2), 6-2, 6-2 in an Oct. 15 matchup of Southern Lakes Conference rivals.
The following day, in the round of 16 qualifiers, Rosentreter and Hammond edged ninth-seeded Brookfield East duo Emma Lo and Theresa Raster, 6-3, 6-4 and became the first players in school history to move onto the state quarterfinals.
In the quarterfinals, Rosentreter and Hammond played top-seeded and undefeated Homestead duo Kate Wade and Ellie Sprinkman, but sent the pair packing after winning, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3 and moved forward to the semifinals held on Oct. 17.
“Our competitive spirit just kept us going and we both knew we could do it,” Rosentreter said about the win against the Homestead pair.
On Oct. 17, in the morning match, Rosentreter and Hammond advanced to the state title match after defeating Franklin’s Sophia Dekker and Madelyn Dziubek, 6-2, 6-3.
The players continued their competitive spirit during the championship, where they secured the title in straight sets, that afternoon.
Obertin acknowledged she felt a positive vibe in the final day of the tournament based on how well her players performed a day earlier.
“I was feeling really good about this happening (Oct. 17),” she said. “I am ecstatic actually.”
Set for success
Obertin said she always knew both of her champions presented strong skills in singles competition and would become a perfect pair.
“As singles players, they had strong components to their game that led to them being very good doubles players together,” Obertin said. “They have such great hands and play really well at the net. They had the skills needed to be a good doubles team.”
Rosentreter and Hammond, however, had limited time to mesh as a doubles team because of a shorter than usual schedule.
“We had a short amount of time to get them together, a couple of weeks, and little by little, we were able to fine tune and make adjustments each time they went out and played,” Obertin recalled.
Hammond, meanwhile, said she previously discussed coming together with Rosentreter before Obertin made the final decision.
“We talked about it before, since we are both good players, I would prefer to be on a doubles team with her,” Hammond said. “If I were to play doubles at Wilmot, I would have expected it to be with her.”
Rosentreter’s state championship carried a special meaning after she missed two full seasons because of a back condition she will deal with the rest of her life.
Rosentreter, who won the conference title as a freshman, initially walked away from the game entirely before finding a solution earlier this year.
The solution, she said, was Pilates and she reportedly felt healthy enough to resume training and began playing outside of school around February.
Obertin admits she did not realize how much time Rosentreter spent training and conditioning because Wilmot, like all schools last year, was shut down due to COVID-19.
“I didn’t really know how much she had been training because of the fact that everybody was at home in the spring,” Obertin said. “It was amazing to see her come out for the season. It was amazing to see that knowing how good she was as a freshman.”
For Rosentreter, just playing was a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself, but to end her high school career as a state champion intensified the achievement.
“I have been really excited just playing doubles with Gwen and the opportunity to play again,” she said.
Hammond previously told this newspaper she felt proud to help Rosentreter during her teammate’s senior season.
“I am happy that we get to play together for her senior year,” Hammond said.
Hammond, who recovered from tendinitis her freshman year, has two more seasons left at Wilmot.
Hammond picked up a tennis racket at 4 years old, joined Western Kenosha County Tennis Association, and began playing competitively while she attended Wheatland Center School.