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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, 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.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The (tennis) draws are in - a look at D1 and D4

It's taken me a few days to get this blog going. Actually, the MHSAA's posting of the draws caught me by surprise. So, too, did some of the draws of our county teams.

Division 1
OK, call me a homer if you want, but Oakland County tennis is the best in the state. So when it comes to seeding some of the players from this county, I'm a little biased based on the competition many of these teams see match in and match out.
At No. 1 singles, there are three players who have a legitimate shot at winning the state title — no disrespect to fourth-seeded Abby Wang of Novi. Mary Hanna of Saline, Katie Brozovich of Clarkston and Hailey Barrett — seeded 1-2-3 by the coaches — should face off for the title. Hanna and Brozovich are both undefeated, and from what I've heard, Hanna has faired slightly better against mutual competition. She's also taken a set off of who many consider to be the best senior in the state (Greenhills' — and Novi resident — Kasey Gardiner).
I won't take that away from her. Hanna has performed brilliantly on the USTA circuit since the end of last year — where she lost to an unseeded Barrett in the second round a year ago. But on the flip side, Brozovich is also unbeaten, and has played a tough schedule for the Wolves. She plays in the best league in the state (OAA Red) and beat both Mollie Fox (Lahser) and Kerry Hu (Andover), who are seeded 1-2 in Division 2.
Clarkston senior Katie Brozovich
The only reason this bothers me is the fact that the bottom half of this draw is brutal. Not only does it included No. 2 Brozovich and No. 3 Barrett, but lurking in the No. 6 position is Rochester Adams freshman Halle Hyman, who just took Brozovich three sets in the regional final. It'll be interesting to see how Barrett — a senior — deals with Hyman, who is going to be one of the state's best, very soon.
As a team, Clarkston is going to need some help. A pair of 5-3 losses to Port Huron Northern and poor pairings at 2-3 doubles have the Wolves looking up heading into Friday-Saturday's finals in Midland. Last year, Clarkston scored 27 points in winning the Division 1 title. I can see it taking about 25-27 points to win it again. Problem is, I don't know if the Wolves can muster up quite enough. You've got to get points from every flight — more often than not two points from each flight.
I see Clarkston having at least four finalists (1S, 2S, 3S, 1D). But that's just 16 points. They all win and you have 20. Lexi Baylis will win at 2-singles. After that, the Wolves will need its stars — and more importantly its unseeded players — to step up and get a surprise win or two.
Led by Wang, Novi picked up a pair of seeds but has some nice draws. The Wildcats scored nine points to finish 11th last year. I see them scoring a few more this year. Same goes for Troy, which had a top-10 finish in 2012. I've got the Colts scoring the same number of points as Novi, again finishing among the Top 7-8 teams.
Rochester Adams, which had a strong showing at the Rochester regional last week, had some tough luck when the draws were announced. Hyman will score at No. 1 singles, but most other flights have tough second-round matchups.

Division 4
Academy of the Sacred Heart enters the state tournament ranked No. 1 and the favorite to win in Holland this weekend. But the Gazelles know all too well that it'll take a little luck and strong play from their doubles lineup to cash in on the first state title in school history.
Let's start right with the doubles. All four flights are on the top line — meaning they earned top seeds. Kelsey Nagle and Emily Nash, Hannah Gerard and Elia Wilson, Heidi Lemon and Sarah Spangler and Kendall Lehmann and Teresa Walawender will all be favored at their respective flights.
Sacred Heart beat Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central a few weeks ago, 5-3. I thought after last year's finals, these would be the two teams to beat in 2012. Somehow, Williamston and Lansing Catholic Central are two of a handful of teams that have wedged their way in between Sacred Heart and SMCC in the state rankings. The Kestrels have enough talent to score as many as 20 points, but not much more. No. 2 ranked Williamston seems to be best built to give the Gazelles a challenge. But I just don't see it happening, as long as Sacred Heart's doubles lineup lives up to — or close to — expectations.
Notre Dame Prep's Lisa Savagian
I feel for senior Jessica Davis, the anchor of the Gazelles lineup. For the second-straight year, she'll be facing a daunting task of being drawn into the quarter of the draw with the No. 2 seed. Any points she can get for the team will be very important. Kelsey Hildebrand at No. 2 singles, and Tyler Papazian at No. 3, will also be key for the Gazelles. They're seeded sixth and fifth. And the two points they're expected to score will be huge. Papazian is in the same quarter of the draw as Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard's Surina Sood, a player she beat 6-0, 6-2 earlier this year. I'm not quite sure how she's seeded lower than Sood (injury perhaps?), but if she can get to the quarters and beat Sood again, that's a bonus point for her team.
Notre Dame Prep has climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the latest rankings and the Irish are primed to finish among the top handful of teams in Holland. NDP picked up a pair of seeds — Erin Moncrief at No. 4 singles and Gabby Bering and Maddie Riley at No. 4 doubles — and I can see them scoring as many as 13 points, which would give them a top 5-6 finish. Lisa Savagian, at No. 1, has a nice draw, and could score a couple points for the Irish.

Here's my take on the seeds for Divisions 2 and 3. And later this week (Thursday), I'll be posting my predictions for this weekend's finals.

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