Rumford realized one of her goals by taking fourth in the 4A regional Saturday in Independence.
The Cyclone qualified for the 4A state tournament, which starts Friday in Emporia.
Word traveled quickly as Rumford was met by peers and teachers Monday offering congratulations as she entered the school.
“Once I walked in today, one of my favorite teachers [Mike Kyriakos) — that has followed my season — gave me a big hug,” Rumford said. “That was pretty neat. It was really nice that they knew what I did. It finally hit me today.”
Nerves and pressure is something athletes have to overcome to perform in the crucial moments.
Rumford did by keeping her mind on the task at hand.
“I did not want to think about it too much,” Rumford said. “I really wanted to go to state. I was really nervous going in. I tried not to think about it, but it was hard not to.”
The senior said the support of her family and teammates pulled her through the rough moments.
“I could hear them all screaming for me,” she said. “It made me feel good.
“After I made it I started crying. I was so excited. I hugged my mom first then my best friend.”
Ottawa coach Troy Reade saw a big transformation from her game in just one year.
“She worked a lot this summer on a better serve and ground strokes,” Reade said. “She is hitting through the ball well now. She changed her technique to get better.”
Another factor was the tougher schedule.
Rumford matched up against some good players at all levels at No. 1 singles.
“She saw a lot of bigger schools this year,” Reade said. “She overcame some nerves, especially closing out that last match to get to state. She definitely had that poise. She knew what she needed to get done.”
Rumford edged Labette County’s Sami Brown 6-4, 7-5 to clinch a state spot.
“She put up a good fight,” Reade said of Brown, who Rumford beat easily earlier in the season.
Rumford did not start playing tennis until her freshman season. She spent the first two years on the junior varsity.
“I love it,” Rumford said. “I wish I had started playing earlier. Tennis is what I look forward to every single day.
“It was all or nothing this year. I did not have another chance at it. I knew what I was getting into. The girls are getting better every year.”
Rumford will not know her first-round state opponent or where she is on the bracket until right before the first match.
The coaches meet prior to the start for a seeding meeting.
The Cyclone prefers not to know who she is playing.
“I want to go in there and play my game,” she said. “It will be very exciting.”
Rumford described her game as a full-court player.
“It is a mixture of everything,” she said. “I can defend. I can go for my shot. I can be aggressive when I need to be.
“Troy taught me everything I know. I owe it all to him.”
No. 1 singles
Kaylynn Rumford (2-2, fourth): def. Goodwin, Columbus, 6-0, 6-0; def. Brown, Labette County, 6-4, 7-5; lost to Kip, Parsons, 6-0, 6-1; lost to Short, Pittsburg, 6-7 (7-9), 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 singles
Lore-Marie Junghans (0-1): lost to Wendt, Chanute, 9-8 (7-5).
No. 1 doubles
Elsie Bones/Elizabeth Seimears (1-2): def. Johnson/Johnson, 6-1, 6-1; lost to Porter/Welch, Independence, 6-0, 6-1; lost to Buntain/Harrison, Fort Scott, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles
Bianca Webb/Katie Webber (0-1): lost to Jump/Rogers, Parsons, 6-0, 6-1.