Tuesday, May 17, 2005
W&L senior courting a title
Lindsay Hagerman is a seven-time All-American and is out to win her first Division III national championship.
The Washington and Lee senior lost in the singles and doubles semifinals of the NCAA Division III championships the past two years. W&L lost in the team semifinals in 2002 and 2004 and fell in the final in 2003. Hagerman will have three more cracks at an NCAA title at this year's championships, which will be held Wednesday through Monday in Kalamazoo, Mich. She is the top seed in the 32-woman singles field, and she and partner Ginny Wortham are the top-seeded duo among the 16 doubles teams. W&L is the No.1 seed among the squads that have advanced to the team quarterfinals.
Hagerman hopes to bow out a champion.
"This is my last shot," Hagerman said. "It's been the goal every year, and it would be nice to go out achieving it."
Hagerman has already achieved much in her career. She has clinched All-America status in singles and doubles again this year, making her a seven-time All-American and the most decorated player in the program's history.
Her effort off the court has also been recognized. Last month, Hagerman was the female runner-up for the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Award, a $21,500 graduate-school scholarship given annually to one man and one woman out of all NCAA athletes because of their academic and athletic success. Her consolation prize was a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
"There are sleepless nights getting it [schoolwork] done, but it's worth it," said Hagerman, an American history major with a 3.67 GPA. "There have been points where I've said, 'I just don't know if I can keep balancing everything.' But what would I let go of? Everything I'm doing, I like so much. So I figure I'll crash this summer."
Hagerman said she was "kind of a nerd" who spent a lot of time studying while growing up in Dallas. She also spent a lot of time with a racket. Her father, former Louisiana State tennis player Bobby Hagerman, was the head pro and director of a Dallas tennis center. Hagerman's mother and grandmother were clerks there, and the family lived across the street from the center. So every day after school, Hagerman would go to the center to hang out or play tennis.
Bobby Hagerman has coached Lindsay since she was 5 years old. He taught her to use not only a two-handed backhand but also a two-handed forehand, an unorthodox approach she continues to employ most of the time.
"My father starts out a lot of players like that when they're small," said Hagerman, who still calls her dad for tips. The two-handed forehand helped "from a strength standpoint - I was a really shrimpy little kid for a long time. And I just had a knack for it. Why change it if it's working?"
"She can have the one hand when she needs to on on either side, too, so she has a whole lot of different shots in her game to be able to deal with different situations," said Bobby Hagerman, now the head pro and director of a tennis center in Wichita Falls, Texas. "I don't believe in teaching people a one-dimensional game. I think they ought to have as many tools as possible. Then they just have to learn shot selection. It's not a simple way to play, but it's very effective."
W&L coach Cinda Rankin said the two-handed forehand makes Hagerman deceptive.
"You can't tell if she's going down the line or she's going to cross-court the ball," said Rankin, whose 20-0 team will face Denison in Wednesday's quarterfinals. "Whereas the ones who have traditional strokes, our stance will give it away."
Hagerman owns the W&L career records for singles wins (109) and doubles wins (106). She and Wortham are 24-2 in doubles this season, with Hagerman ending many points by attacking at the net. Hagerman is 29-1 in singles this year, and won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III singles title last fall.
"She can lob, she can drive the ball, she can drop shots, she can slice," Rankin said. "She's got the whole game. but sometimes she refuses to use it all. There seems to be a stigma in tennis - if you don't look good hitting the ball, you're not very good. Often times hitting the shots that she hits, she may not look good, but they're very effective."
Hagerman's father preached adaptability. Hagerman changes her style of play so she can adjust to her foe, as opposed to being only a baseliner or just a serve-and-volley player.
"Even as a little girl ... she liked to mix things up and not just hit the same boring shot over and over," Bobby Hagerman said. "She liked to change the pace and use different spins. ... She can hit the ball hard, but she's a real change-up artist."
Hagerman also has her father to thank for her love of history. A history buff, Bobby Hagerman would discuss history with Lindsay during long car trips to her tournaments.
Due to graduate next month, Hagerman has been working her entire senior year on her honors thesis. The topic is indentured servants in Colonial Virginia.
"I find it fascinating. A lot of people give me a funny look when I talk about it," Hagerman said with a grin.
Financial aid helps pay for her W&L education, but Hagerman also works as a dorm counselor and has a work-study job as a clerk at W&L's tennis center.
She won't need part-time jobs when she pursues her master's degree in history at the University of Delaware, though. That college is giving her a history fellowship that will cover tuition and include a $12,000 stipend.
Hagerman wants to teach history in a public school when she graduates from Delaware. As a child, she used to teach her stuffed animals what she learned in school that day.
This week, she hopes to school her opponents at the NCAA championships.
Washington and Lee tennis player
Records: 109-17 in singles, including 29-1 this year; 106-15 in doubles, including 24-2 this year; owns W&L career marks for singles and doubles.
Honors: Will finish career as seven-time All-American; 2005 Atlantic South region senior player of the year; two-time ODAC player of the year; two-time ODAC women's tennis scholar-athlete of the year; 2004 third-team
At the NCAAs: Lost in singles semifinals in 2003 and 2004; lost in doubles semifinals in 2003 and 2004; top seed in singles and doubles in 2005.