GIRLS STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT: The Polish Hammers repeat as state champs
Nina and Natalia Jabrzemski were first called “The Polish Hammers” years ago by a tennis coach who was impressed with their crushing overhead slams.
“Both of our parents are full-Polish. They are immigrants,” Natalia said. “We are full-blood Polish. We speak Polish. That's who we are.”
The Norman North sisters take pride in their Polish ancestry, and after winning the 6A No. 1 doubles title Saturday in the state tennis tournament, they posed for photos holding a homemade sign bearing their deserving nickname.
They are also state champions for a second straight year. The Jabrzemski sisters repeated the title by rallying Saturday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center to defeat Edmond North's team of Lora Boggs and Kinsey Fields, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“Losing the first set 6-3, they had all the momentum,” Natalia said. “Obviously we wanted the first set to be better, but it almost helped us in the second set because we had nothing to lose. We just had to fight our hardest.”
In winning the state championship, the Jabrzemski sisters avenged a loss to the Edmond North team one month ago in the conference championships.
Earlier in Saturday's semi-final, they defeated Tulsa Union's Nicole Merrill and Ashley Barber 6-3, 6-4, avenging a loss to that duo in the regional finals one week ago.
Last year, it was easier for the Jabrzemski sisters as they went unbeaten during the regular season and didn't lose a set at the state tournament. This year, they experienced some adversity, entering the state tournament with three losses and as the No. 3 seed.
People doubted they would repeat, and even Nina admitted to having a little self-doubt.
“We knew we were the underdogs this time,” Nina said. “They (Edmond North) were the one seed and we were the three. We proved everyone wrong today, even ourselves.”
After losing the first set, Norman North tennis coach Philip Nelson admitted he was worried.
“Their backs were against the wall and once again they proved they were the best team in the state,” Nelson said. “No. 1 doubles is the most competitive division out of all of them this year, in my opinion. They came out here and beat three quality teams.”
Nina, a senior, plans to walk-on at the University of Oklahoma to play tennis. Without her sister as a doubles partner, Natalia, a sophomore, plans to play singles next year.
“We couldn't have ended it better,” Nina said. “I am more than thankful I got the opportunity to play with her. I am just grateful that this all happened. It was the perfect ending.”