Washington junior Sierra Sonnemaker is a two-time all-conference tennis player for the Panthers, playing in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles this season. She won the Mid-Illini Conference No. 2 singles title as a freshman, and qualified for state that season in doubles with partner Erica Shangraw. Sonnemaker and Shangraw finished second in the conference No. 1 doubles last season.
Sonnemaker also plays basketball and is on the track and field team at Washington.
She’s played for three tennis coaches in three seasons, but has maintained a high level of play in both doubles and singles.
GateHouse Media Illinois reporter Johnny Campos had five questions for Sonnemaker:
1. You’ve made it to state in doubles, and you play both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, so which do you think is your best chance for a return trip to state?
“It’s hard to tell. We don’t know who will be in our sectional. The type of competition could affect if I go singles or doubles. There’s a higher chance I’ll go with doubles, though, because I’ve been playing doubles in tournaments.”
2. What do you think your team’s chances are of knocking off Morton as Mid-Illini Conference champion?
“I’ll personally do my best to defeat my Morton opponents, and I know the rest of my team will do their best. But there’s no telling who will eventually pull through.”
3. How much of an adjustment has it been to play for three coaches in three years at Washington?
“I’ve both enjoyed and disliked playing for different coaches all of my high school career. It’s enjoyable because there are different perspectives to the game and I can have different inputs on how to improve my game. ... It’s been difficult, too, because all of them do things differently. ... This means I have to adjust each year and impress my coach each year. They don’t come in knowing how all of us play and seeing our dynamic. Sometimes it’s like being a freshman all over again.”
4. What has been your biggest improvement since you have played for the Panthers?
“My strategy. As a freshman, I was working on my shots and adjusting to playing at a varsity level. I wasn’t focused on placing the ball or adjusting my game to beat my opponent. Now that I’m able to focus on placement, I adjust in most matches to give myself the best shot of beating my opponent.”
5.You play three sports. What sport do you think gives you the best chance is to play at the next level?
“Tennis typically has fewer people wanting to play at the next level, but it also have fewer spots. On the other hand, basketball has more spots, but it has more people wanting to play at that next level. I’m also short for my forward position in basketball, so I feel tennis would more than likely be the best bet at playing. I plan to keep my options open and see what options are available to me in the next couple years.”