Wilmot tennis duo formed strong bond

Halle Rosentreter (left) and Gwen Hammond became doubles tennis teammates while at Wilmot Union High School and eventually went on to win the WIAA Division 1 state championship last fall while collecting Southern Lakes Conference Athlete of the Year accolades (Jason Arndt/The Report).

State champions reflect on fall season, look to future

By Jason Arndt

Halle Rosentreter and Gwen Hammond had a whirlwind fall sports season as doubles partners on the Wilmot Union High School tennis team.

The Panthers duo, which won the WIAA Division 1 state doubles title, then snagged the honor of being named Southern Lakes Conference Athletes of the Year with Lake Geneva Badger’s Zaya Iderzul.

Rosentreter, a senior, reflected on her final season with Wilmot and admits she still gets emotional about winning the state championship with sophomore Hammond.

“It is such an amazing and uncommon experience and I feel so blessed to have done it with one of my best friends,” said Rosentreter.

Rosentreter, meanwhile, states the title carried special meaning since she joins her father, Paul, as state champion representatives at Wilmot.

Paul Rosentreter in 1984 won the state boys basketball championship.

“It is a very special experience that we are proud to share with each other,” Rosentreter said. “Gwen and I being named Athlete of the Year along with Badger’s Zaya Iderzul was also very thrilling.”

Rosentreter said she, Hammond and Iderzul worked extremely hard and Rosentreter felt honored to share the achievement.

“It was an honor that I was able to be recognized with two of my good friends for all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we have put into our sport,” she said.

For Hammond, she called her fall sports season a dream, which became a reality.

Hammond acknowledged her state championship as well as Athlete of Year honor happened rapidly.

“Everything just happened so fast and I just remember feeling proud and grateful for everything,” Hammond said. “I am incredibly grateful that we were chosen (as Athlete of the Year) and I feel it is an honor.”

Since then, however, neither have put down their tennis rackets and continued to strengthen skills during the winter.

Rosentreter, at Four Lakes Athletic Club in Elkhorn, participates in drills and practices four to six days a week under her “amazing coaches” Jonathan Teune, Adam Westhauser, Grant Paisley, Sherwin Miranda and Brian Jaaksi.

She also holds 1-on-1 private lessons with coach Peter Fanous.

Rosentreter, who plans on playing collegiately at Gustavus Adolphus College, has worked to prepare herself for the next level through matchplay and competition in United States Tennis Association tournaments.

“Staying strong has also been a priority for me while improving my tennis skills,” she said. “Having a strong and healthy body is key to preventing injuries and hitting faster serves and ground strokes,” said Rosentreter, who participates in strength training and agility drills at Brad Arnett’s NX Level in Waukesha with trainers Jake Bodi, Dylan Shaver and Nic Hansen.

Her experience at NX Level, she said, has allowed her an opportunity to workout and build relationships with athletes who play other sports.

Although Rosentreter takes lessons elsewhere, she still works with Hammond, often hitting with her.

“Since then I have been continuing to hit with Halle,” said Hammond. “I’m currently doing lessons at Lake Geneva Tennis and I go and hit at Flac every once in awhile. Now that it is starting to get nice out, I hope to start hitting outside more.”

Strong chemistry
The Wilmot duo, meanwhile, formed a strong bond while teaming up on the tennis court.

Rosentreter, who noted chemistry, said she and Hammond have developed an “amazing friendship.”

“While playing, we are completely synced,” Rosentreter said. “We are able to communicate without even talking. That type of chemistry is very hard to find in a doubles partner, and I am so lucky we were able to play together in my last high school season.”

“Gwen and I will always have a connection that others may not understand, winning a state championship together has bonded us like sisters,” she added.

Rosentreter adds Hammond, who has two years left at Wilmot, will continue to excel on and off the court for the Panthers.

“I know she is going to do big things her next two years of high school and my family and I are so excited to see her excel on and off the court,” Rosentreter said.

Hammond acknowledged she will miss Rosentreter, but feels excited to see her doubles partner move onto play at the collegiate level.

“I’m so happy that she is going to play in college and I’m happy about the relationship that we have built together,” Hammond said. “I think it’s something that will never be lost and I will miss hitting with her. She’s such a talented and fun player to play with and it’s going to be different without her next year.”

Humble beginnings
Hammond, who attended Wheatland Center School, received her first exposure to tennis as a four-year-old watching her father and brother play the sport.

“I remember watching my dad and my older brother, Gavin, play and remember wishing that I was able to hit like they did,” Hammond recalled. “It really started when Gavin started taking lessons. I wanted to take lessons just like him and I wanted to hit as strong as he did.”

Inspired by her brother and others, she joined a summer program with Western Kenosha County Tennis Association, where she began taking lessons.

“It all went from there and I have been pushed and inspired by many people, ranging from coaches to parents and even friends.”

Rosentreter, however, discovered tennis almost by accidental discovery while walking in her family’s living room as a youngster.

The Wilmot senior, then a 5-year-old, picked up her Little Mermaid wand and tennis ball and started hitting it against the living room wall.

“My parents took this as an obvious sign to put me in tennis and I started my tennis career shortly after,” said Rosentreter.

Growing up, she often watched Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, all of whom Rosentreter looked to emulate in some way.

“They all inspired me in different ways because they were all very talented and different players,” Rosentreter said. “I believe they have all inspired a part of my game and I am very thankful to have been able to idolize them while growing up.”

Rosentreter, who started hitting forehands on both sides comfortably, learned how to use her left-hand more frequently as a competitive advantage through her first coach, Marty Batt.

Fateful decision
Rosentreter considered many colleges and universities before deciding on Gustavus Adolphus in Saint Peter, Minnesota.

Gustavus Adolphus, she said, had everything she wanted ranging from field of study to playing on the tennis team.

But the decision didn’t come until last summer, seemingly by fate, according to Rosentreter.

Last summer, her mother, Pam, had some cardiovascular issues and became a patient of surgeon who attended Gustavus Adolphus.

“My mom’s surgeon had gone to Gustavus and told her that it has a very good biology and medical program as well as an amazing tennis program,” said Rosentreter. “Seeing how successful and enthusiastic her surgeon was, we knew we had to visit and my parents and I fell in love instantly.”

Her first impressions of Gustavus included campus architecture, breathtaking scenery and well-maintained indoor and outdoor tennis facilities.

While on her visit, she met with coaches and players, and Rosentreter instantly felt like she was at home.

“The science building, Nobel Hall, also brought tears to my eyes while touring the campus,” she recalled. “This is when I knew that this was the school for me since I plan on majoring in biology to become a physician’s assistant of oncology.”