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Jason Schmitt is the editor of MIPrepZone.com, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Congrats to all the state tennis qualifiers

I spent much of Saturday recovering from a couple great days of tennis - most of which was spent in the sunshine. I think I got a little too much sun. I did not feel well.
But it was worth it. I'm pretty sure I saw the potential state champions in Divisions 2-3 this past week. After catching the Marian-Seaholm match early this week, I made it out to the North Farmington regional Friday. Andover ruled the field. And if the fact the Barons won six flight championships at a very tough regional wasn't proof enough that they'll be a team in the mix at the state finals, it was encouraging to see sophomore No. 1 Kerry Hu walking around the grounds rooting on her team. Seeing her helped off the court at last week's OAA Red tournament, I thought her season was done. That doesn't appear to be the case.
Andover will have a chance to challenge Marian and Seaholm for the title. I won't give my prediction just yet - I want to see how the three teams are seeded before taking a shot. But on paper, Marian appears to be in the best position to get the seeds it wants.
Lahser sophomore Mollie Fox 
That should be the case for Lahser's No. 1 Mollie Fox. She looked very impressive in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Mercy's Winnie Karoub Friday. She's dropped just one match this year - to Clarkston's Katie Brozovich. She is unbeaten in Division 2 play. Okemos' Irene Ng, the only top-notch player out there who she hasn't seen this year, lost to Mason's Abby Perkins in a regional final. Fox should get the No. 1 seed and have a clear path to the semifinals.
Speaking of a No. 1 playing at a high level, Cranbrook's Alex Najarian looked near flawless in beating Country Day's Amabel Karoub in the Division 3 regional final Thursday. Crazy thing is those closest to her said she's only about 60 percent of what she was before suffering an illness earlier this season. That's scary, because she looked better than any player I've seen this year - and I've seen many of the best. As a team, Cranbrook looked very solid, with its singles lineup playing Country Day tough and its doubles lineup sweeping.
The Cranes - which beat No. 1 ranked East Grand Rapids 6-2 (without Najarian) in their most recent matchup - will be my pick to win Division 3. And Najarian should once again breeze to the No. 1 championship.
In Division 1, Clarkston's Katie Brozovich pretty much sewed up the top seed at No. 1 singles. It wasn't easy, as she needed three sets to beat Rochester Adams freshman Halle Hyman at Friday's regional. But without a blemish and wins over some of the best teams in the state (Grosse Pointe South, Port Huron Northern to name a couple), Brozovich should be in line for the top seed, opposite Grand Ledge's Hailey Barrett.
Her team has two weeks to figure out a way to score enough points to have a chance at a second straight state championship. I've always felt that you have to be able to score well in doubles to have a chance to win it all. That's why Ann Arbor Pioneer has finished first or second in each of the last eight years. They have outstanding doubles play. Clarkston has the firepower in its singles lineup to compete with anyone. But the doubles are going to need to score about 12 points to give the team a shot. With some good draws, that could happen. But no team can afford to lose early.
And over in Division 4 (and thanks to anonymous in the comments section below for reminding me), Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart ran away with the Almont regional, scoring 30 points. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep also had an outstanding day, scoring 22 and also advancing to the state finals.
The reason I like the Gazelles chances to win the school's first tennis championship is the balance this team has. It's got the talent to score well at singles, sure. But the play of the doubles will be the reason the team brings home the hardware. Jessica Davis, Kelsey Hildebrand and Tyler Papazian have proved all year long they deserve solid seeds at 1-2-3 singles. The doubles have done the same. Kelsey Nagle-Emily Nash, Hannah Gerard-Elia Wilson, Heidi Lemon-Sarah Spangler and Kendall Lehmann-Teresa Walawender will make the difference.

Qualifiers
Oakland County had four Division 1 teams qualify out of regionals this past weekend.Clarkston and Rochester Adams finished 1-2 at the Rochester regional. Troy was runner-up at Grosse Pointe South and will also make the trip to Midland. And Novi finished second to Northville for the second straight weekend (they were 1-2 at the KLAA tourney).
Like always, the county will be well represented in Division 2. Birmingham Seaholm and Marian are headed to Kalamazoo College. So too are Lahser, Andover, Mercy and Holly.
Over in Division 3 the usual suspects are back. Cranbrook and Country Day will be making the trip up to Holly/Fenton for the finals.
In Division 4, Sacred Heart and Notre Dame Prep will be playing in Holland. And Frankel Jewish Academy junior Alex D'Ascenzo finished runner-up at the Ann Arbor Greenhills region at No. 1 singles and will also make the trip across the state.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Division4 and the highest scored pts. in all of D4 regionals?? Sacred Heart blew away the competition with 7 champions and a total of 30 pts!

May 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM 
Blogger Jason Schmitt said...

Anonymous ... I had intended on adding to the blog today. It was very late Saturday night (as you can see) when I was typing away. Yes, the Gazelles will be the favorite to win their division, too!

May 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM 

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