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Sheri Hawkins

Posted at: 10/10/2012 10:46 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- "I was so excited," Century junior Sheri Hawkins said. "We've been practicing all year for this, so I was like, let's get it done!"

Hawkins took her own advice, and got it done in yesterday's Section 1AA Championship.

The junior picked up the clinching win in her match against Mayo's Laura Thomas, giving Century a 4-3 team win.

"Going on court, I was really nervous, but then on court, I was thinking, we're here, so let's play hard and it'll pay off, and it did," Hawkins said.

"She just frustrates her opponent into making errors, and quite honestly, that's a great person to have when the match is on the line, because you know they're going to be nails out there and not miss," Century head coach Josh Heiden said.

Thanks in large part to Hawkins, the Panthers are going to their first-ever state tournament.

"At the very end of the match, they all ran up to me, and we were celebrating, it was so exciting," Hawkins said. "We're doing the tee shirts, and the bus rides, and the hotel; we're all so excited.  We waited so long, so it's a big deal."

Not bad, for a girl who didn't start playing tennis until seventh grade.

"I played a little before that, just a few lessons, and liked it, and I caught on fast," Hawkins said.

"She doesn't hit the ball a ton, but she doesn't make any mistakes, either. She gets a ton of balls back, her rallies are really long. She's gotten a ton better in the last couple years," Heiden said.