Serim Jin's ascension from unsung singles tennis star to a Class 6A state finalist as a sophomore was swift and sudden.
Jin's jump into stardom helped Sunset overtake Jesuit as a program at the district championship as well as taking second at state. In short, it was a year that was both successful personally and team-wise. Jin's ability to elevate her game to the upper echelon of the state level placed her amongst the 6A's best.
Despite a number of harrying injuries that hampered her full skill set from shining in its totality, the Sunset sophomore star stood tall. The Apollo right-hander won the Metro League singles championship and blitzed through the 6A state tournament before falling to Tigard freshman phenom Lizzy Stevens in the state title match.
And now she's in position for even more postseason hardware.
Jin is one of seven Metro League female athletes nominated for the Oregon Sports Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 18, at the Tiger Woods Center on Nike World Headquarters. Jin is one of three finalists selected for the Female Prep Tennis Player of the Year Award, but it was the Apollos' season as a whole that stood out most. Playing alongside two loaded doubles pairings in Phoebe Wu and Yara Chehab, and Lorissa Yuen and Kirsten Auble, Jin and company took Sunset to new heights.
"It's been a pretty great season," Jin said. "I'm glad (Wu, Yuen and Chehab) were along for the journey as well. I loved it. It's nice not being alone like last year. We had a lot more confidence this season, that belief that we were a good team and we could accomplish our goals and go far if we were confident enough to play our game. It's nice that we're a big team, but still support each other."
Jin won't be the only Apollo athlete at the highly prestigious event.
Sunset sophomore Ember Stratton and junior Kelly Makin are finalists for the Female Prep Cross Country Runner of the Year award. Stratton won the 6A state title in the fall. Makin was an integral runner on the Apollo squad that took second at the state meet and also won two state championships during the track and field season.
Jesuit senior Kathryn Decker is a finalist for the Female Prep Volleyball Player of the Year after helping the Crusaders reach the 6A state tournament and win yet another Metro title. Decker signed with the University of Santa Clara. The 6-foot-3 all-around star won three state championships during her illustrious career.
Southridge senior Caitlyn Wilson and Jesuit senior Emily Cook are two of the three nominees for Female Prep Swimmer of the Year. Wilson won 6A state titles in the 200 and 500-yard events after taking second in both races her sophomore and junior year. Cook won first place in the 100 backstroke and 100 fly. Jesuit's Emily Steele is a finalist for the Prep Female Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Jin said she's more of a "consistent" player than she was as a freshman when she reached the 6A semifinal match against 2016 OSA Prep Female Tennis Player of the Year Bess Waldram.
"I don't have that much technique, but I just try to make due with what I have, especially with my consistency," Jin said. "I have a little power at times. And my serve is nice because I can control it. It's not very strong, but I can still dictate to wherever I want to."
Jin beat Jesuit freshman Farida Abdelmoneum in the Metro single title match and the 6A semifinals as well. Abdelmoneum is possible Female Prep Tennis Player of the Year Award winner as well, with a swell of left-handed power and fire. With both players coming back the next two seasons, it should be a fascinating one-on-one duel.
"I tried to play my game," Jin said. "I made sure I hit the ball with a lot of good spin and hit it long and deep. I think I played smarter. That troubled her. She was trying for the corners of the court and couldn't reach them. I did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in and playing it. I just tried to keep grinding the baseline."
Through a statewide voting panel consisting of TV, radio and print personalities and respected sports professionals, finalists were nominated and selected after two rounds of voting over the course of the last eight months.
For a list of previous winners, please reference www.oregonsportsawards.com.
Winners for all categories will be revealed during the 65th Oregon Sports Awards presented by Nike.
The show will be hosted by ESPN SportsCenter anchor and University of Oregon alum Neil Everett on Sunday, June 18, from 7 9 p.m. at the Stanford Theater in the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Headquarters.
Tickets are on sale at www.oregonsportsawards.com and a live broadcast will be available during the show.
The show also will recognize high school and college athletes for their dedication to athletics and giving back to the community through the Play It Forward Award, and to non-profit organizations in Oregon that are committed to getting kids active through the Play It Forward Fund, sponsored by Nike and Providence Health & Services.