Makenzie Estrem has made a habit of demonstrating how numbers don’t always tell the entire story.
A senior at Greenwood Community High School, Estrem since the beginning of the 2011 girls tennis season has been a fixture at No. 3 singles.
It’s Estrem’s comfort zone. Her home away from home.
If playing for most any other program in Indiana, Estrem likely would be penciled in at No. 1 or No. 2 singles.
So happens that sports’ cyclical nature deposited Estrem on Greenwood’s tennis doorstep at the same time as twins Jackie and Jade Kawamoto.
Jackie is the defending state singles champion, and Jade is every bit as dominant.
Estrem to her credit doesn’t view herself a recipient of incredibly bad timing. Quite the contrary, actually, with this 1-2-3 singles punch critical to Greenwood’s No. 5 state ranking.
“I really like being good as a team. It’s just fun to be playing alongside girls who can make you better,” Estrem said. “It’s hard to comprehend we are ranked that high, but it is exciting. Our goal is to win state, but, personally, I just want to make it past that first round (at the state finals).”
Greenwood has fallen just short of a semifinals berth the past two years, losing 3-2 to eventual state runner-up Floyd Central last season and 3-2 to Fort Wayne Canterbury in 2012.
Estrem in both instances lost heartbreaking three-set matches. She nonetheless sports a career record of 50-22 at No. 3 singles.
“Jackie and Jade didn’t play their freshman season, but Makenzie was still No. 3 because she was behind a couple of seniors. Her skills are at a level where she can play a higher number,” said 20th-year Greenwood coach Steve Gantz.
Estrem’s 4.4 grade-point average ranks her sixth academically in a senior class of 242 students. Her plans include playing tennis at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she will major in nursing.
Estrem through her eventual medical training aspires to make a difference in the world.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people, especially kids,” Estrem said. “My sophomore year I went to Nicaragua on spring break. It broke my heart, and that made me want to be a nurse and be able to go on medical mission trips.”
Those 10 days in the capital city of Managua along with a second trip there the following fall proved life-changing for Estrem as Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in Latin America.
“It really opened my eyes. Just a very humbling experience,” she said.
Estrem’s tennis lineage dates back to the summer following her first-grade school year (2002-2003). She’s been enamored with the sport ever since.
As a sophomore it was Estrem’s point pushing the Woodmen past Zionsville, 3-2, to capture semistate. A year ago a win at No. 3 singles allowed Greenwood to slip past Terre Haute South by the same score.
“The last two years Makenzie won the big semistate match to get us to the finals,” Gantz said.
Estrem promises to be tested in the days ahead given tonight’s home match with Plainfield followed by the annual Johnson County Meet taking place Wednesday at Whiteland. The month of May brings matches against 16th-ranked Columbus North and No. 20 Columbus East.
Only then will Estrem’s high school tennis career be in wind-down mode.
Like the twins whose shadow she sometimes finds herself in, Estrem will be missed.
“Makenzie has been a great performer all the way through and would be the No. 1 or 2 player at a lot of schools. She is a competitor in everything she does. A great student and leader.”
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
Name: Makenzie Estrem
Born: Madison, Wis.
Family: Parents, Shawn and Nancy; brother, Brandon, 15
Favorite TV show: “Castle”
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite movie: “Transformers”
Favorite athlete: Maria Sharapova
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts