When Winthrop girls tennis coach Kristen Cady needed to show her team how to do something right on the court during practice, she used Amber Pritchard as an example.

A lot.

“I would use her as a model, telling the girls ‘Watch, this is how you’re supposed to do it,’ ” Cady said.

Pritchard was a good example to use. The recent Winthrop graduate led the Ramblers throughout the season, qualifying for the state singles tournament for the second consecutive year. Pritchard defeated Sarah Smith of Calais 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round before losing to Waterville’s Tiffany Suchanek 6-0, 6-0 in the second round.

For her success during the season, Pritchard has been named the Kennebec Journal Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

“I definitely expected her to play in the singles tournament,” Cady said. “She’s been playing since she was three. She’s very, very determined, and this has been her life. I knew she would go far.”

Pritchard, who lost in the first round of the 2012 tournament to Caribou’s Ashley Richards, said her goal was to move farther along in the tournament.

“I was happy, because I got farther than I did last year, and my goal was to go farther than last year,” said Pritchard, who was named the to Mountain Valley Conference first team. “For the season, I was hoping we’d make the playoffs, and we did. We got a bye in the first round, but then lost to Carrabec. But it was a pretty good season and we went farther than we thought we would.”

Cady said Pritchard worked hard at having a well-rounded game on the court.

“She wanted to be a well-rounded player. She definitely had a solid forehand, backhand and serve, which are really the three key things you need to have to be a well-rounded tennis player.”

Cady, who finished her first season coaching at Winthrop, credited Pritchard with helping lead the team as a co-captain.

“She was a co-captain, and she was perfect,” Cady said. “She was the one that I relied on the most in everything. We had to put up nets every day (on the court). So she was always the one who had the key, got the balls out, got the nets up, and if it’s been kind of neat that if I needed anything she was the one who was there for me.”

Success on the court seemed to be a destiny of sorts for Pritchard. She started playing the game at an early age, beginning lessons at seven.

Pritchard first picked up a racket at the age of three. Her dad, David, was the biggest influence in learning tennis. Pritchard used the game to connect with David, who is hard of hearing.

“It was just a huge thing, because it was a way for me and my dad to connect,” Pritchard said. “When we were out on the court, there wasn’t a need to talk. We just played the game, and it was just nice to connect.”

Pritchard’s future plans will focus more on her cooking skills. She will attend Central Maine Community College to study culinary arts.

“I watch ‘Worst Cooks (in America)’ and a lot of stuff like that,” Pritchard said.

Dave Dyer — 621-5639
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