Sadie Hammond hopes she misses her graduation ceremony at the University of Tennessee next weekend. If things go as planned this weekend, Hammond will be busy.

A Belgrade native, Hammond is a senior on the Tennessee women’s tennis team. This week, Hammond and her doubles partner Kaitlin Staines were named All-America. They’ll be seeded eighth in the 32 team national doubles championship later this month in Orlando, Florida.

 

First, Hammond and Tennessee compete in the team championships.

Sadie Hammond, left, of Belgrade, and Kaitlin Staines earned All-America status as the University of Tennessee’s No. 1 doubles pair. Photo submitted by Sarah Keller/Tennessee Athletics

“We are a confident team, and we expect high things of ourselves,” Hammond said.

Hammond and the Volunteers took on Furman in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, North Carolina. With a win, Tennessee would move on to the second round next Saturday against either Virginia Commonwealth or North Carolina State.

If that’s the case, Hammond will be hundreds of miles from Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and accepting her diploma will be a more intimate ceremony later. Maybe as simple as opening the mail when she’s back home in Maine, working for the family business, Hammond Lumber.

It’s the end of what Hammond calls a four year learning process.

“It’s not what I expected at all. It’s had its ups and downs,” Hammond said of her collegiate tennis career. “Everybody is good. Everybody is going to lose. Everybody is going to win.”

Entering Tennessee, Hammond was coming from the world of junior tennis. By nature, that’s a selfish world. It’s a world of individuality, of clawing over and through the competition to carve your own success. In college, it’s about using your skills as a part of the team. For Hammond, that took some getting used to.

“You have to know people are working with you. There’s an accountability aspect. I learned some life lessons, for sure,” Hammond, the Volunteers captain, said.

Hammond plays both No. 1 singles and doubles for the Volunteers. Hammond and Staines were paired together in October. Although they had never played doubles together, they quickly knew it was going to work, Hammond said.

“It was instant. Our chemistry and playing ability clicked,” Hammond said. “If I’m at the net and Kaitlin is at the baseline, she sets me up and vice versa.”

Tennessee’s Sadie Hammond, of Belgrade, celebrates during a match against Old Dominion earlier this season at Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo submitted by Maury Neipris/Tennessee Athletics

Hammond and Staines went undefeated through their first 21 matches. They climbed as high as sixth in the doubles rankings, and enter the NCAA tournament with a 24-3 record. Hammond and Staines earned six wins over ranked opponents.

“We had some good wins coming off (the fall),” Hammond said. “It was exciting in winter break thinking about what we could do.”

As a singles player, Hammond was named second team All-SEC, her second all-conference honor. In doubles, the All-American nod fulfills a goal Hammond set as a freshman. Conference player of the week awards, all-SEC freshmen team, all-SEC, academic honor rolls, even freshmen all-American. Those were all nice, but none of them were the wall.

At Tennessee’s tennis facility, each of the Volunteers all-Americans are honored with a spot on the wall. As a freshman, Hammond reached the second round of the NCAA singles tournament, finishing one round short of earning All-American status, and a spot on that wall. For three years, Hammond used that as motivation. The wall is immortality.

The wall is everything. The teamwork Hammond learned at Tennessee put her there.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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