By Terry Jacoby/WeloveAnnArbor.com
Amaya Melendez has been an elite player for Pioneer since she stepped on the first tee three years ago during her freshman season. She is one of those quiet, very quiet in fact, players who doesn’t stand out in a crowd until she has a golf club in her hand – then she stands out, really stands out.
She is strong off the tee, accurate with her irons and her hard work with her putter is paying off on the scorecard. There are just so many parts of her game to admire. Her focus is unbreakable and she has the personality to remain calm and composed in any situation. She also is an excellent student and a very likeable person.
And, on top of all that, Amaya Melendez has her own web site. Which, of course, took me to Google to see how many other golfers have their own web site. Yes, there is a tigerwoods.com. Who knew? And yes, there is dustinjohnson.com.
“The season is going very well,” she said. “The overall team scores have improved a lot from last year and we are winning more tournaments and I feel like Coach Bill (Lyle) has really put amazing time and effort into making sure that everyone on the team is getting the help they need.
Plus they look good – and that’s important, too.
“We also really stand out with our newly designed team flare,” she says.
Her individual play has been what she calls a “positive experience.”
“Moving onto a golf course has really been a benefit because I literally have a golf course in my backyard and it leaves a lot more time for me to get in the extra practice that I need to prepare for golf tournaments,” she said.
It’s called the home-course advantage and Amaya is taking full advantage.
Amaya, a junior at Pioneer, has been taking lessons for years with renowned golf teacher Dave Kendall of Dave Kendall Academy in Ann Arbor.
“I really like working with him because he gives me just the right confidence that I need to feel good about my hitting, chipping and putting,” she says. “Whenever I swing in public, I am often told that I have a great swing. I credit my swing technique to my father who has spent many years working with me, and my swing coach Dave Kendall.”
As a freshman, Melendez fired a second-round 76 at the Division 1 MHSAA state finals on The Meadows at Grand Valley State University to finish with a two-day score of 156. She placed tied for ninth overall in the state.
Last year at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek, she fired a team-best score of 168, seven strokes from the top 10 individuals.
The Pioneers have a tough Regional coming up this week. Northville, the No. 1 team in the state will more than likely grab one of the top spots. That will leave Pioneer, Plymouth and a very good Skyline team fighting for the other two spots – the top three go to states.
“My goal heading into Regional is mainly to focus on myself and to make sure that I get in a lot of practice and to have a positive mindset while I play,” says Amaya. “I also will make sure to practice a lot on my short game because that is where the game is won. I believe as a team, if we all focus, and block distractions we should do very well and make it to states.”
Amaya hopes to return to states for the third time in her high school career. She feels like she has some unfinished business at the state meet.
“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked last year,” she says. “My game just wasn’t there for those two days at Bedford Valley, but this year I am very confident that I will be able to pull out a lower score.”
Amaya, who has a 3.75 GPA and hopes to play in college after her high school career, will be a more confident and polished player when she steps up on the first tee at Forest Akers West for this year’s state finals.
“My hitting has been a lot more consistent, and I have been getting more greens in regulation and my putting has also gotten a lot better,” she says. “I really like Forest Akers West. I have played there a lot of times in tournaments outside of high school. I know the course really well and I like the speed of the greens because they are just right for my game. I think that good putting throughout the tournament should lower my score and get me to my goal.”
Her goal is to do well and “show that all the hard work that I have put into golf has paid off and to show everyone what I can do and what I am about.”
If you want to know more of what she’s all about, you can always go to her web site.