She turns her motivation into a history-making season at Westside Christian

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Rachael Hahn, a 2017 Westside Christian High School graduate, hits a shot during girls singles play at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament. Hahn won the Eagles' first ever state tennis title. Rachael Hahn worked hard.

She handled all of the pressure.

She had a whole bunch of fun.

And, oh yeah, she's going down in history.

Hahn, a 2017 Westside Christian High School graduate, did something that no one from the school had ever done before.

She won a state tennis championship.

And she did it in impressive style.

Hahn, winning in both dominating fashion, and also by coming from behind, claimed the first state tennis crown in school history, as she won the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A girls singles title at the state tourney held back in May at the Oregon State University Tennis Complex in Corvallis.

"That definitely meant a lot to me," Hahn said of her state championship. "It was a testament to all of the work I put in. I love the sport so much, so it was really exciting."

And that excitement didn't just come overnight.

"I've been playing high school tennis for four years," Hahn said. "It's kind of my main sport."

But she actually got started in the sport long before that. Hahn said she started playing tennis when she was 6-years old, and she started playing at a competitive level when she was 12. She also started training at the Leong Tennis Academy.

Hahn made her presence known at the state level right from her first year playing at Westside Christian.

As an Eagle freshman, Hahn qualified for the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament in singles play.

She won her first match at state that year, before falling to No. 4 seed Riley Hanks of Ridgeview in the second round.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Rachael Hahn stands with Westside coach Cindy Nordlund after winning the state title. As a sophomore, Hahn again made it to the state tournament. And, again, she won her first match in singles play, before falling to top seed, and eventual champ, Lauren Rakocevic of Catlin Gabel in the quarterfinal round.

Hahn, as a Westside Christian junior, found more success at the state tournament. That year, she opened the tournament with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 4 seed Lily Inthisan from Klamath Union. Hahn also triumphed in three sets in the quarterfinals.

But, in the semifinals, Hahn ran into Rakocevic again, and the top seed came away with a 6-0, 6-1 victory on her way to claiming another state crown.

That all set Hahn up for her senior season — where she was eying bigger and better things at the state tourney. But, first, she had to make sure she got there.

That meant that she had to make sure that she didn't falter at the Special District 1 tournament, held at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.

She didn't.

Hahn, the No. 2 seed in singles play at that tournament, scored a 6-3, 6-3 victory over top-seeded Kate Keeney of Oregon Episcopal School in the title match.

"It was a prerequisite for state," Hahn said of the district tournament. "Winning district wasn't as big a thing as state, but I wanted to maintain a high performance."

But, Hahn also had a little bit of extra motivation going into her district title match against Keeney.

"She gave me my one loss for the season," Hahn said. "I wanted to prove to myself that I was the better player."

Hahn went into this past spring's state tournament as the No. 1 seed in the girls singles bracket.

"Being the No. 1 seed was cool," Hahn said. "But it put a little more pressure on me. There were more people watching my matches. I hadn't been seeded for state before. It stressed me out a little bit, but it did help."

Well, if Hahn was a bit stressed at the state tournament, it certainly didn't show in her first couple of matches.

Hahn opened the state tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Meghan Belshe of Sherman. She then scored a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Erica Mitchell of Cascade in the quarterfinals.

"I had no idea what to expect," Hahn said of those opening two matches. "I'd never played them before. I wanted to make sure not to make any dumb mistakes. Everyone works hard to get there, and everyone wants to win. Those were fun matches for me."

Things didn't so as soothly in the semifinals, where Hahn met up with No. 3 seed Courtney Lam from Klamath Union. In fact, Lam picked up a 6-1 win in the opening set of the match.

"Going into that match, I knew she was tough. I'd been watching her out of the corner of my eye during my other matches," Hahn said. "That first set got to me a little bit. She took advantage — she was a firecracker out there."

But that just seemed to fire-up the motivated Hahn even more.

"I was thinking about how bad I wanted to get to the finals," she said. "I knew I had to dig deep."

With that in mind, Hahn rallied to win the next two sets, 6-3, 6-3, to get a three-set victory and earn a spot in the finals.

"I buckled down," Hahn said. "As the match progressed, her energy level started to waver, and I had to stay tough mentally."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, Keeney, the No. 2 seed, put together three consecutive straight-set wins to earn a spot in the championship match.

"I had a feeling she'd get to the finals," Hahn said. "We always go back-and-forth. When she beat me earlier in the season, I was disappointed, but it motivated me to step it up."

And Hahn knew that she was going to be in for a battle in the finals against Keeney.

"She wanted it just as badly as I did," Hahn said. "And I'm sure she wanted to redeem herself."

Whatever it was, Keeney got off to a fast start in the championship match, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first set of the contest.

"I had to recoup and bring back my energy," said Hahn, who had to rally to get the three-set semifinal win earlier in the day. "I was kind of tired."

But the motivated Hahn overcame that fatigue — and Keeney.

The Westside Christian star won six of the final seven games of the opening set, getting a 7-5 victory.

"I was proud of myself to be able to do that," Hahn said.

And there was no stopping her in the second set.

"I just stuck with my game plan," Hahn said.

And that game plan worked perfectly.

Hahn won the second set 6-0 to claim her state championship.

"After the final point, I was thinking 'wow, I'm actually doing it,'" she said. "I was just really happy and excited. It was like a fairy tale ending. My family, and our athletic director (Mike Hood) made the trip to watch me. From getting to just the second round my freshman year to winning the entire thing — I felt extremely lucky."

And, of course, Hahn also earned her spot in Westside Christian school history, as the first Eagles tennis state champion.

"I think that meant a lot to the school," she said. "I think we're more track-oriented, but this should bring some more light to the tennis program."

And Hahn knows she couldn't have done all of this without plenty of help.

"I owe a lot of my success to my parents, (Westside Christian) coach (Cindy) Nordlund and the coaches at Leong," she said. "They're all good role models. They've taught me to have good morale and to be a good sport."

Hahn will continue her scholastic tennis career at Vassar College, located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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