Much more awaits Gateway tennis standout Abby Herman
Abby Herman said the impending conclusion of her high school tennis career is bittersweet.
On one hand, the Gateway senior can look back on one of the more accomplished Gators girls tennis tenures in recent memory. She said it's hard to believe it's coming to an end.
“It's so surreal that it's gone by so fast,” said Herman, who competed at the WPIAL Class AAA singles championship for the first time last Thursday.
At the same time, Herman is eyeing short-term and long-term goals on the court. She hopes to play in a number of junior indoor tournaments starting next month, she wants to continue on- and off-court training and is looking forward to playing at Seton Hill.
“I realized I didn't want to say goodbye to tennis (at the end of high school),” said Herman, who went 12-5 as a singles player this fall.
“I had a goal of playing in college, and to do that, I knew I had to put in a lot of extra training.”
That training has paid off for her future and her present.
Herman started competing at section tournaments as a freshman in 2014. She lost in the first round of Section 1-AAA doubles that year.
Two years ago, she was in the section singles tournament draw for the first time and lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Natalia Perry from Franklin Regional.
She advanced to the quarterfinals of both the section singles and section doubles last year, setting the stage for this year's section competitions.
Herman got over the hump Oct. 9 as she won two pro-set matches to advance to the section singles semifinals and clinch a spot in the WPIAL singles tournament. The four section semifinalists are guaranteed a spot at WPIALs, regardless of how they finish at sections.
The next day, Herman saw her run end with a three-set semifinal loss to Addison Kemerer of Latrobe. She then battled Hannah Yan from Franklin Regional and fell short in a three-set thriller 2-6, 7-6 (6-4), 7-5.
“It was definitely a tough final four,” Herman said. “Everyone fought to be that No. 1 or No. 2 seed and also make it to WPIALs. At the end of the day, someone has to win and someone has to lose.”
Herman then faced North Allegheny's Ava Catanzarite, the No. 2 seed, in the WPIAL first round and suffered a 10-1 loss. Catanzarite advanced to the WPIAL finals before falling to Norwin's Maria Santilli.
“It's a really big accomplishment for me,” Herman said of reaching the WPIAL tournament.
“I've been training and playing for 10 years, and it's great to see all that hard work pay off with something like a trip to WPIALs. Even if it's for that one match, like it was (Thursday), it means the world to me.”
Gateway coach Rochelle Seilhamer said Herman represented herself and Gateway well at WPIALs.
“Abby went for her shots. She served better, and she also played better at the net,” Seilhamer said.
“She doesn't let things bother her too much. No matter what happens, she looks to the next opportunity to be successful.”
That next opportunity began earlier this week at the Section 1 doubles tournament at Franklin Regional.
Herman teamed with junior Kyah Russell, Gateway's No. 2 singles player. The duo has section experience as doubles partners as they also teamed up last year.
“We mesh pretty well,” Herman said. “We have a pretty similar game. We respect each other's games. We go out there and have fun, but we try to win as many games and matches as possible.
“Even though we're not playing together for most of the year with our singles matches, we know when we play together, we communicate well. We have a game plan, and we execute it as best we can.”
As with section singles, the top four from Section 1 doubles advance to the WPIAL doubles tournament that is set to begin Thursday afternoon at North Allegheny.
The future at Seton Hill, Herman said, is a combination of the right academic and athletic fit. She said she's confident a career in the medical field will get a solid foundation at the Greensburg school and that the tennis program will provide her the necessary tools to take her game to the next level.
“I've really grown and matured the last couple of months,” Herman said. “How you hold it together mentally, especially in singles tennis, is so important because you have no one else to fall back on when you're playing. Lessons I've learned through tennis I can take with me no matter where I go.”