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Cranbrook Kingswood player denied shot at doubles title, is comforted by team title

By: Jeff Dullack, May 31, 2015, 10:11 pm

Grand Blanc – Ask those who know Jamie Beckett and chances are Beckett’s desire to win will be one of the first things mentioned about the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior.

A standout on the girls basketball team, Beckett entered the spring without advancing past the district stage of the MHSAA tournament, she felt there was something missing from her high school career – a state championship.

A season ago, Beckett’s sister, Mackenzie, won a state championship at No. 3 doubles and was part of Cranbrook Kingswood’s Division 3 state championship, another driving force in her desire to win a state title.

Looking for a state championship of her own, Beckett looked to the Cranes’ tennis team, which had won four straight state titles.

“My sister won a state championship last year and I play basketball and we’ve never been able to win a district,” said Beckett. “So I wanted to win a state championship in something, so I decided to try out.”

There was only one problem, however. Beckett had never played organized tennis before.

“It’s funny because her sister won a state championship on our team last year,” Cranbrook Kingswood coach Jeff Etterbeek said. “Jamie was on the basketball team and never advanced very far in the states and it ate her alive that her sister had a state championship without her, so she came to me at the beginning of the year and asked if it would be okay if she came out for the team. I told her that it was very unusual in our program to have a senior come out that’s never played before because our girls are good and they play all the time.”

All that Beckett was looking for was an opportunity to prove herself. From day one Etterbeek said he could tell just how good of an athlete she was along with her willingness to work.

“She said just give me a chance and she came out the first day and I saw that she was a great athlete and was willing to work hard and I told her I’ll take you on the team,” he said. “She started losing to everybody at first and she’d put in an extra two or three hours in per day after practice and with her work ethic and athleticism, the hating to lose attitude that she had, she became a great player.”

Beckett’s inexperience didn’t slow the senior down this season as her athleticism and work ethic helped her improve from struggling early on in the season, to progressively working her way up through the lineup.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. I started the season and I couldn’t beat a single person on the team and I lost 6-0, 6-0, to both alternates and it was fun being able to work my way up and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Beckett began the season as a player-manager, playing at No. 5 doubles before moving her way up to No. 2 doubles.

It is at this flight where Beckett would have success as she was paired with Amanda Simmons and the two went on to win a regional championship held at Detroit Country Day.

As teams prepared for the state finals this past weekend, Beckett learned that she would not be eligible to compete, due to Michigan High School Athletic Association rules, because she did not compete in the majority of team’s matches at her slotted No. 2 doubles position.

“I felt she deserved to play, so I put her in the regional lineup and she won doubles at No. 2 doubles, she won the region,” Etterbeek said. “But then it was ruled she couldn’t play. I think it’s a great story because it shows that if you have athleticism and work ethic, and the desire to compete then anything can happen.”

Beckett admitted she was disappointed by the news but was pleased with how her season played out.

“It definitely hurt,” she said. “But I came on the team expecting to be manager and play No. 5 doubles. It sucked, but it was fun, I got over it. Once again, I couldn’t have asked for a better season and a better team to play with.”

Beckett looked on Friday as Cranbrook Kingswood locked up its fifth consecutive Division 3 state championship, while her doubles partner in the regional earned a state championship of her own.

“Just winning regionals was amazing to me,” Beckett said. “I had never won a district, that was the coolest thing ever and then to win states was more than anything I could have asked for. Definitely one of the coolest feelings.”

And while she may have envisioned it differently, in the end, it was a mission accomplished for Beckett.

She finished her high school career as a state champion.