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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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

State tennis finals - a look back at the weekend

I've got to say, I hate rain. And if you were a tennis fan this weekend, I'm sure you're with me. Rain played a big part in the festivities. Indoor tennis is tolerable, but not for 20 straight hours. There's nothing like seeing 200-plus people surrounding a court late on Day 2 of the finals.
Regardless, I spent my weekend up in Midland watching some great tennis. And I've got to start things off by saluting the performance Ann Arbor Huron put on for the crowd. They far exceeding everyone's predictions, probably even their own. I know they exceeded mine. I underestimated their "ability to finish." I believed they had the talent, and the draws, to put themselves in a position to be there in the end. But I felt Brother Rice and Novi had the top-end talent to pull away.
But instead, that's exactly what Huron did. The River Rats clinched the title with seven flight finals yet to be played. Six of their eight semifinalists scored wins, and three of them went on to win it all. I didn't see any winning flight championships. So congratulations to Huron, which, as I was told, will return a plethora of talent next year, starting at the top with No. 1 Jack Petersen. Consider them the favorite, starting now.
As for Novi and Rice, which I had picked to finish 1-2, they each had their troubles in head-to-head matchups with Huron. Rice was the first to fall, dropping semifinal matches to the River Rats at three flights. In two of those three, Huron went on to win titles. Novi directly controlled its own destiny as well, but dropped two semifinal matches to Huron and three more in the finals.
Again, Kudos to the River Rats. They definitely deserved to win their second-straight state title.

One of the big reasons I wanted to be in Midland on Friday-Saturday was the draw at No. 1 singles. I can't remember a more talented, or deep, top draw. By the end of the weekend, it included three different No. 1 singles state champs. Troy's Brett Forman won it all in 2010. Tyler Gardiner won it as a junior a year ago. And on Saturday, Utica Eisenhower's Ed Covalschi picked up a pair of impressive victories, beating Forman and Gardiner back-to-back to claim his title.
Fans packed the stands, and wall, to watch both matches, starting at 9 a.m. Gardiner beat Petersen in one semifinal on the first court, while Covalschi beat Forman in an exciting three-setter on the next court over. Forman beat Covalschi in the first set in what his coach said was his best match of the season. But Covalschi eventually wore out the Troy senior, who cramped up in the third set. I was excited to get a chance to see Covalschi play, and he lived up to the reputation that preceded him.
Some of the best tennis - aside from that semifinal match - at No. 1 singles took place on Day 1. While on my way up to Midland, I was notified that Rochester Adams sophomore Justin Hyman was up a set and had a 6-5 lead on No. 3 seed Tim Wang of Novi. Despite facing two match points, Wang rallied to win the match and secure two big points for his team. This was a match I thought could be trouble for the Wildcats.
Also on Friday, Stoney Creek's Nick Fiaschetti beat Catholic Central's Michael Dube' in three sets in a bit of an upset. Though anyone who's seen Fiaschetti play the past few weeks wasn't surprised. He's one of a few players in the draw that in most years would have been seeded - Hyman and Troy Athens Richard Zhang to name a couple others.

Congratulations to Oakland County's three flight champions on Saturday. Novi's Pavan Rao won at No. 4 singles, while Brother Rice's Nos. 3-4 doubles teams walked away as winners. Joey Hildebrand and Johnny Cameron knocked off Ann Arbor Huron at No. 3, while David Weatherford and Brendan Dillon went through their draw losing just seven games in four matches.

As a team, Huron made my predictions look a little silly. I didn't want to reveal my individual predictions before the draws because I didn't want to put any undue pressure on the kids. But I'll reveal them now. I hit some, and missed on some, thanks in large part to the success of the River Rats.

No. 1 singles
My prediction: Covalschi (UE) over Gardiner (NOR)
Actual: Covalschi (UE) over Gardiner (NOR)

No. 2 singles
My prediction: Connor Johnston (NOR) over Michael Trupiano (DCC)
Actual: Connor Johnston (NOR) over Jack Hamaty (BBR)

No. 3 singles
My Prediction: Koushik Kondapi (NOV) over Colin Williams (AAH)
Actual: Colin Williams (AAH) over Koushik Kondapi (NOV)

No. 4 singles
My Prediction: Pavan Rao (NOV) over Jon Seyhun (AAH)
Actual: Pavan Rao (NOV) over Jon Seyhun (AAH)

No. 1 doubles
My Prediction: Jason Carless-Andrew Ying (NOV) over Akihiro Ota-Aaron Brodkey (AAH)
Actual: Akihiro Ota-Aaron Brodkey (AAH) over Jason Carless-Andrew Ying (NOV)

No. 2 doubles
My Prediction: George Hamaty-Connor Parks (BBR) over Nishant Kakar-Michael Chang (NOV)
Actual: Max Teener-Ryan Stark (AAH) over Nishant Kakar-Michael Chang (NOV)

No. 3 doubles
My Prediction: Joey Hildebrand-Johnny Cameron (BBR) over George Lu-Michael Bondin (AAH)
Actual: Joey Hildebrand-Johnny Cameron (BBR) over George Lu-Michael Bondin (AAH)

No. 4 doubles
My Prediction: David Weatherford-Brendan Dillon (BBR) over Shashank Chitta-Kevin Xu (NOV)
Actual: David Weatherford-Brendan Dillon (BBR) over Austin Luker-Will Brenner (AAH)

I will try to blog about the Division 2 and 3 finals later today. Because I was on site in Midland, I was unable to communicate with my other coaches. Country Day did dominate in Division 3, while Birmingham Seaholm was one of five Oakland County teams to finish among the Top-12 in Division 2.

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