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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.

Monday, June 4, 2012

State champions abound on Super Saturday

Oh where, oh where do I start?
Oh yeah, it seems my blogs have traveled across the state. When I arrived at Stowe Stadium Saturday morning I struck up a conversation with a man at the scoreboard (where the flight draws were). We began talking about some of the surprises at the tournament and he asked where I was from. I told him I was from The Oakland Press and he asked me, "Are you the blog guy?"
He proceeded to tell me he reads my blog, and that he's a dad of a Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern player. He also points out that my predictions were "a little off."
Indeed, he was right. The Division 2 finals had its fair share of upsets over the weekend. So too did the other Divisions. But there was a lot of great tennis played. And Oakland County teams proved just how lethal they can be when playing on the state's biggest stages.

Division 1
  • I thought coming in it was going to be difficult for Clarkston to repeat. I felt they were going to fall a point shy of winning its second straight Division 1 title. They did just that, but it wasn't to the team I thought it would be. Grosse Pointe South beat Port Huron Northern head to head at a few key flights to narrowly edge out both the Huskies and the Wolves.
  • Watching her close friend Davina Nguyen (Utica) wind her way through the top half of the No. 1 singles bracket had to be exciting for Clarkston senior Katie Brozovich this weekend. But to see her standing on the other side of the net in the finals had to be stir up some mixed emotions. Who wants to beat their friend? Who wants to lose to a friend? In the end, it was Nguyen — just a freshman — who took home the state title. Still, what a career for Brozovich, who finished her four years at Clarkston with just three losses.
  • If there was one sure thing coming into the state tournament this weekend, it was that Clarkston sophomore Lexi Baylis would win her second straight title at 2-singles. She lost just three games in four matches. Baylis is unbeaten in her first two years. The Wolves will not miss a beat at No. 1 next year when Baylis takes over for Brozovich.
  • Clarkston's version of the Olsen twins was hoping to team up for a state championship at No. 1 doubles this year. But early on they were split up to strengthen the team. On Saturday, the sisters made coach Becky Freeman look like a genius. Though the team fell a point short of a state title, both sisters won state titles. Paige Olsen won at 3-singles, while Dana Olsen teamed up with Olivia Dunn to win at 1-doubles.
  • Rochester Adams Halle Hyman served notice that she'll be a force the next couple years. I knew she'd be the darkhorse to watch out for in her half of the draw at No. 1 singles. And she nearly knocked off Grand Ledge senior Hailey Barrett in a semifinal match.
  • Talking about consistency, for the third time in four years, Troy finished with 10 points and among the top-10 teams at the state finals. The Colts were 10th this year. In fact, Troy has finished among the top-10 every year but one (2008) since 1999. And the Colts were 11th that year. Each of Troy's four doubles teams scored victories in the second round, helping the team to the 10th place finish.
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Division 2
Seaholm won the Division 2 state title Saturday.
Marian's Olivia Underwood and Kelly Lunghamer
play Forest Hills Northern in the No. 1 doubles
Finals Saturday in Kalamazoo.

  • Made my way over to Kalamazoo College for the first time this year. And I've got to say I really enjoyed the tennis - at least on Day 2, when the girls had a chance to play outside at the beautiful Stowe Stadium. I do want to thank Paul Ballard and his crew for hosting a great tournament. It certainly won't be my last trip to the West side.
  • And to the Forest Hills Northern dad who asked me if I was the "Blogger," I was thoroughly impressed with your team's performance, particularly on Saturday. For a team that lost 10 starters off last year's team, FHN came to play - particularly in doubles. I sought out head coach Dave Sukup to compliment the job he and his staff did this year. The Huskies had won eight out of the last 10 state championships, but I'd venture to guess this was his best coaching job.
  • Back to the east side, it was yet another great performance by Oakland County teams. Not only did Seaholm win the title, Marian, Andover and Mercy finished among the top five teams Saturday. I'd have to say Marian and Andover are probably a little disappointed as both teams left points out on the court, points that might have given their teams a chance to contend with Seaholm. Both teams beat the Maples during the regular season, and Marian beat them head to head at the regional just two weeks earlier. But Seaholm was on a mission, and they did not stumble like the competition. At least for these two days, coach Scott Ransome - and assistant Paul Young - had their girls ready to play.
  • Youth was served - literally - in the No. 1 singles flight in K-zoo. The winner - Mason's Abby Perkins - is just a sophomore. So too was runner-up, Kerry Hu of Andover. Lahser's Mollie Fox - my choice to win it all - fell to Perkins in the semifinals. She, too, is a sophomore. Mercy freshman Winnie Karoub - who I predicted would get to the semifinals, by the way, also had a great tournament before falling to Hu. Next year's tournament should be another great one at this flight. Expect Fox to come back very, very hungry.
  • As I said above, Seaholm came ready to play this past weekend. And that made the difference. During the regular season, Seaholm fell to Marian, 5-3, and to Andover, 7-2. This weekend Seaholm was 3-1 against Marian and 1-1 against Andover, head to head. The Maples won the matches they needed to win. They were the only team to do so.
  • Hats off to coach Joe Stafford and his Mercy team for their top-four finish. I predicted them scoring 19 team points for a fifth place finish. They did me right by scoring those 19 points, but did one better by tying for fourth place. Four different flights reached the second day, highlighted by Anna Hinrichs and Christy Snyder's run to the title match at No. 2 doubles. 
  • Lahser finished with 10 team points, good for an eighth place finish, and Holly scored four points to finish 14th. That gave Oakland County four of the top five, five of the top 10 and six of the top 14 teams in Division 2. Fox highlighted the Knights' trip to K-zoo with her semifinal appearance. Freshman Meryl Reams (#3 singles), Kenya Sanchez (#4 singles), Ellyce Ferguson-Jacqueline Shandler (#1 doubles) and Claudia Fenzi-Daina Hill (#3 doubles) all scored for Lahser. For Holly, Natalie Clink (#3 singles), Felicia Doolin-Tabitha Steigerwald (#2 doubles) and Amy Rizzardi-Maddie Rydahl (#4 doubles) scored for the Bronchos.

Division 3
  • I'm proud to say I predicted the top six teams — in order — in this division. And barring something really funky happening, it was Cranbrook's to lose. Coach Keith Cullen has coached a lot of great teams over the years, but for him to tell me heading into the finals that this might be his most talented Cranbrook team yet, that said a lot. The Cranes scored 34 team points, easily beating out East Grand Rapids (25) and Country Day (24). Cranbrook won five flight championships, including Alexandria Najarian at No. 1 singles, and each of the four doubles titles. Megan Simmons and Meg Phyle at No. 1, Claire Huttenlocher and Maria Landi at No. 2, Briana Letica and Holly Meers at No. 3 and Lauren Lanzon and Christina Roualet at No. 4, did not lose a set all tournament. Not one set. And just 25 combined games in their championship matches.
  • There wasn't a team in the state - all year — that could match the singles talent Country Day put out on the court. And that was evident on Saturday. Senior No. 1 Amabel Karoub reached the quarterfinal round, while teammates Madelyn Karoub (No. 2) and Jane Ziecik (No. 4) captured state championships. Madelyn and Jane did not drop a set all weekend long. The Yellowjackets' No. 3, Marina Selenica, finished runner-up at her flight, helping the lineup score 16 points alone. That would have placed fifth overall, as a team.
  • The state title was the second-straight for the Cranes, which have now finished first or second 11 times since the 1998 season (14 years). That's impressive.

Division 4
Sacred Heart's title-winning doubles teams.
  •  If you look at the signs hanging on the tennis courts at Academy of the Sacred Heart, you see that the Gazelles have made quite a few trips to the Division 4 state finals. But something tells me that they'll be adding an entirely new sign to the courts. Finally, Sacred Heart won the big prize Saturday in Holland. Coach Judy Hehs' team dominated the field, capturing the state championship. She and co-coach Jean Koehler's girls were oh so close last year, finishing second. They left nothing to chance this year. Three of the team's four doubles flights captured state championships. Kelsey Nagle and Emily Nash didn't drop a set in winning at No. 1. Heidi Lemon and Sarah Spangler beat their St. Mary Catholic Central foes in three sets in the No. 3 final, while Kendall Lehmann and Teresa Walawender cruised through the No. 4 bracket without a challenge. With Hannah Gerrard and Elia Wilson's runner-up finish at No. 2, the team scored 19 out of a possible 20 points. Like I said coming in, that group was going to lead the team to the title. But don't dismiss the singles lineup. Jessica Davis, Kelsey Hildebrand, Tyler Papazian and Brenna MacArthur all exceeded expectations and separated Sacred Heart from the field.
  • It really was a good day for not just Sacred Heart, but Notre Dame Prep, too. The Fighting Irish finished seventh overall with 12 points. That was the best finish in school history. The team proved it could compete with the state's best. No. 6 seeds have no right making it to the championship match. But coach Pete Riley's team did it twice. Erin Moncrief beat a #3 and #2 seed to get to the finals at No. 4 singles before falling to her Traverse City St. Francis foe, 6-4, 7-5. And the team's No. 4 doubles team of Gabby Berin and Maddie Riley weaved their way past a #3 and #2 seed as well to reach the final, where they lost to Lehmann and Walawender. At No. 1 doubles, Danielle Mullis and Hannah Preuss beat the #2 seed from Williamston in the second round and made it to the semifinals before falling to Ann Arbor Greenhills. Kayla Stencel at No. 3 singles also scored for the Irish.
  • When Frankel Jewish Academy's Alex D'Ascenzo had to withdraw from the tournament after sustaining an injury a week earlier at a USTA tournament, it proved to be a bad break for Notre Dame Prep's Lisa Savagian. They re-drew the draws and Savagian was pitted against North Muskegon's Ginny Hoch in the first round. She lost to Hoch. In her original draw, she would have faced Hailey Craft of Jackson Lumen Christi and then perhaps Portland's Emily Quinn, both of which lost in the first round. Who knows what might have happened.

1 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Benda said...

Jason - It was great to see you out a Kalamazoo over the weekend. I enjoy reading your analyses of girls tennis. I can tell that you take pride in what you do. One last comment - Congratulations to the Seaholm Maples, Division 2 State Champions!

June 4, 2012 at 9:33 PM 

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