BEAVERTON, Ore. — Competing for the 6A state championship is nothing new for Jesuit junior Bess Waldram. Being fully healthy during state tournament weekend, however, is very new.
Waldram splashed onto the scene her freshman season. She reached the state final before losing to teammate Erin Larner, who was a four-time state champion and currently plays at Northwestern University.
Waldram’s sophomore campaign was cut short just weeks before the state tournament. After battling through a nagging left leg injury for most of the season, a doctor revealed to Waldram that she had a stress fracture in her tibia, and would have to sit out the rest of the school season.
“I just tried to support the team after that,” Waldram said. “It was still fun but I wished I could have been out there playing.”
Although she was happy to support Larner on her way to her final state championship, the fuel to win a state championship was only growing inside the then-sophomore.
“Not that I was missing the desire, but in general, I wanted to get on the courts and help the team by getting back to the state final,” she said.
Even though she reached the state championship match her freshman year, Waldram was not at anywhere close to full-strength. She was forced to serve underhand as she played through a labrum tear in her right shoulder.
“It was hard,” Waldram said of the match. “But, I learned a lot from the injuries and had to work on different parts of my game.”
After injuries derailed the state and northwest’s No. 1 ranked class of 2016 player during her first two seasons, Waldram is finally fully healthy for the state tournament. That’s bad news for her fellow state competitors.
“I’m serving and hitting my forehand pretty well,” she said. “It’s cool just being able to actually play.”
Waldram, the No. 1 seed in the 6A field, dominated her second round match against Clackamas’ Erin McDonald on Thursday, winning 6-1, 6-0.
Next up for Waldram is a state quarterfinal match against Willamette junior Ivana Bilski on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center. While the focus is on winning that elusive state championship, Waldrum is not losing sight of being able to play her best against the state’s best.
“I’m just focused on competing as well as I can and enjoying being at state,” she said.
Check out the 6A girls singles state tournament bracket here.