Brooke Hapuku, senior tennis player for Farmington's girls tennis team, made history this past week. Hapuku is Farmington's first individual qualifier to the state tennis tournament in school history. It has not been any easy journey for Hapuku, who has had to overcome a close-call in last year's sections and injuries this year, on her journey to make the state tournament.
After making the final four of sections last year but falling just a match shy of qualifying for the state tournament, Hapuku said that breaking through this year was "an unreal feeling."
"It was an amazing feeling being able to make it to the final four and play for state again," she said. "Realizing I had advanced to the state tournament was an unreal feeling and I knew all my work had paid off."
An amazing accomplishment for any athlete, Hapuku also adds the distinction of being the first such qualifier in FHS history.
"Knowing that I'm the first individual is very special to me," she explained. "It's such an honor and I'm proud to be the first individual (qualifier) for Farmington tennis."
After her close call last season in the final four, she said that she worked on improving her approach to the game over this last offseason.
"Each year I've improved my game," Hapuku said. "My coaches are a big help with those improvements. This year I made it a focus to work on the mental aspect of my game and staying positive. I think the improvement in this part of my game is a big reason I made it as far as I have this season."
Looking ahead to the state tournament, Hapuku said that the injuries that plagued her often during the regular season seem to be behind her now.
"I'm feeling great," she said. "Nothing is bothering me at the moment and I've been taping my arm. I've also been taking a few breaks from practice when I can so that when it comes time to play I can perform my best."
From Hapuku's point of view, the hardest part of the season is over and what comes next is just something she can enjoy to the fullest.
"I don't feel like I have any challenges going into the state tournament," she explained. "I think the biggest challenge was making it there. Now I can just have fun and enjoy the moment of being able to play some of the best people in the state."
The first round of state singles play for class AA takes place at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota Campus. Hapuku will play the fifth seed, senior Samantha Nichols of Eagan, in the first round. No matter if she wins or loses, she will have another match Thursday at noon, either in the winners or consolation bracket, and the tournament is single-elimination from then on. After that first round, any player that loses is eliminated. Players that lose in the winners bracket do not move down to the consolation bracket. The final two rounds are played the next day at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the same location. The losers in the semifinals will play a third-place match.
After the state tournament has finished, Hapuku still has a majority of her senior year left to enjoy.
"I'm going to continue training and playing in United States Tennis Association tournaments until I leave for college," she said. "I'm still undecided if I'm going to play tennis in college but I'm definitely looking into it."
Hapuku added that she has not yet decided where she will continue her schooling.