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Sienna Watts consistency, height that melds well with Mattawan’s progress to the tennis state finals

Sienna Watts consistency, height that melds well with Mattawan’s progress to the tennis state finals


MATTAWAN, MI For much of her childhood, Sienna Watt’s favorite sport was football.

In fact, Watts had been playing the sport for over a decade, playing in Midwest United’s youth program. But the Mattawan High School sophomore needed a breath of fresh air.

And family ties to tennis came up.

Since eighth grade, Watts has been steadily on his way to becoming Mattawan’s No. 4 singles player in his girls’ varsity tennis program, reaching a new all-time high after beating the run at last week’s regional tournament. Better yet, it was Watt’s 6-2, 6-1 championship game win over Portage Central senior Malea Lakey that was the deciding factor in winning the Wildcats their third regional title in four years and their sixth consecutive birth before next weekend’s state finals.

It’s safe to say Watts has a ball at her new favorite sport.

I just feel like this is my sport and I really enjoy that it’s more of an individual sport, said Watts, who has a record of 17-4 a year. I was just done with football and I didn’t like it anymore and since my parents both played tennis I thought I’d give it a shot. I like it because it’s all up to me and not other teammates, which I think is an individual achievement.

Watt’s successful sophomore campaign has gelled nicely with Mattawan’s synergy, especially one year away from losing a pair of 2022 state champions, Miss Tennis winner Liz Novak and Romika Shokohi. Outsiders wrote off the Wildcats as a rebuilding unit, but Watts, along with a host of other players, has come together well with stability and a lot of hard work.

That couldn’t be more true for Watts, who not only cut through several open blisters for most of the season, but has also earned the respect and applause of readers of MLive and the Kalamazoo Gazette. From a 10-10 freshman season to just four losses now in 2023, fans have noticed Watt’s improvement which is why she was awarded the MLive/Kalamazoo Gazettes Athlete of the Week award.

It feels really good and I’m just excited to finally win it against all the contestants I faced,” said Watts. I’m just really thankful for my family and friends who voted for me.

Watts jumped to the top of the leaderboard at the start of the week and rose to a late win to win, with 2,204 votes, or nearly 37 percent of the vote. Schoolcraft softballs Paige Metzger finished second with 1,386 votes (23 percent), as nearly 6,000 votes were cast in this week’s poll.

With an accolade that comes along with a regional championship, Watts said it made this year’s team that much more special, especially when you consider how close-knit they are.

Mattawan girls tennis

Mattawan girls’ tennis won a regional championship last week at the regional tournament hosted by Portage Central.(Courtesy of photo/Matt Boven

I feel like we all thought it was going to be a rebuilding year, she said. But this team fits together very well and everyone is good friends with each other. It definitely helped us get through a lot more, have fun and enjoy exercise. We have worked very hard this season and are much more focused than before.

It feels really great to win a regional as well, Watts added.

After tinkering with doubles last season and now being the Wildcats No. 4 singles player, head coach Matt Boven said it has been Watts’ consistency and versatility that have really allowed her tennis abilities to blossom.

She’s a fighter and she hits every ball and understands that to be successful you have to mix things up, Boven said. You have to bring in opponents sometimes, and she just does a great job with variety.

It’s always cool to see one of your players recognized for their consistent play, Boven added. Sienna has been the definition of consistency day in and day out, she has been extremely consistent and has enabled her team to win matches and tournaments.

And while she continues to thrive, there have also been quite a few challenges along the way. Watts has dealt with severe blisters on her hands and feet all season and wears a glove to protect her hand from further damage.

It sure hurts, but Watts isn’t about to pack her bags, she just doesn’t roll that way.

There’s no questioning how long her rallies and competitions are because she grinds things out and it takes a toll on her, Boven said. But she’s also very smart about taking care of her body and resting, so she’s always ready when race day approaches.

Rallying is what Watts sees as her forte, especially with her ability to tire out her opponent.

I think a lot of people think I’m really fast because I can get to most of the balls, Watts said. I try to move people by taking short shots followed by longer shots.

And for the team dynamic, Watts brings positivity and warmth, a nice match for a group with only two seniors.

She just has a gregarious personality and supports her teammates well, Boven said. As a sophomore she is a bit more relaxed and I can see her taking on more of a leadership role in the future.

But for now, Watts says she’s just enjoying the moment and the opportunity to compete in next weekend’s state finals, something she’s confident she could walk away from with hardware.

“I’m really excited because I already beat the No. 1 seed in flight, so it feels like a very big opportunity for me to be able to win states,” said Watts. That would be incredible, so I really hope.




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