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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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What does this reporter know?

Clarkston back atop my rankings
Just when I think I have things all figured out, the Clarkston girls tennis team goes out and beats Cranbrook Wednesday afternoon, 6-2, in a non-league match. That's not to say I have doubted the talent on the Wolves (I had them ranked No. 1 to open the season), but I knew it was just a matter of piecing together that talent into the best lineup possible.
And the Wolves might have figured it out. They split up the county's best doubles team, moving Paige Olsen to singles. That solidified Clarkston's top four and allowed it to sweep the Cranes, which were coming off a nice win over Marian on Monday. The doubles lineup looks a little different than the one that opened the season, but it looks solid from top to bottom. I know have the Wolves back at No. 1 in my latest county rankings.

Congrats to the Eagles
Lakeland beat Walled Lake Central, 7-2, Tuesday to win the KLAA North Division title, its second in three seasons. Natalia Wohletz and Sydney Sinclair won at 2-3 singles, and the doubles lineup swept the Vikings.
1D Taylor Sims and Olivia Neumann, 2D Lindsay Lingnau and Juliaa Salciccioli, 3D Megan Doyle and Elena Winger, 4D Lauren Chard and Kelly Labuta and 5D Sam McCallum and Gina Juarez didn't lose a set in the victory.

Sacred Heart marks its territory
Just as I was completing my feature story on Notre Dame Prep having one of its finest seasons in recent history, Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart was polishing off a 7-1 win over the Irish Thursday afternoon. It comes as no surprise, really, as the Gazelles are ranked No. 1 in Division 4. Sacred Heart returned most of its team from a year ago and its that depth that, in my opinion, makes it the team to beat at the state finals.
The Gazelles swept the doubles with the Irish, though Heidi Lemon and Sarah Spangler needed three sets to beat Sara Hanna and Savanah Litton at 3-doubles. Still, I think these two teams finish 1-2 at the regional tournament.

Preview of things to come?
I had a chance to take in some of Wednesday's Andover at Marian match. And like I thought, it was a pretty competitive match. Marian squeaked out a 5-3 win, taking three of the singles matches and splitting doubles with the Barons. However, Andover was missing Kristen Law at No. 2 singles. Had she been there, it would have been a very intriguing match between she and Elaine Apaza, who won in straight sets.
Both teams, full strength, I want to see it. And we will at the state finals. My only hope is that we see a healthy Seaholm come state tournament time. With Nancy Benda in the lineup, Seaholm becomes a contender along with Marian, Andover and Forest Hills Northern. Now that would be an awesome state tournament.

Tournament roundup
Last weekend several county teams competed in some great competition and fared quite well. Country Day shared the Allegan Invitational title with East Grand Rapids. The Yellowjackets' singles lineup carried the team, with Madelyn Karoub, Marina Selenica and Jane Ziecik winning 2-3-4 championships. No. 1 Amabel Karoub was runner-up.
Mercy, Rochester Adams and North Farmington did their best to catch Northville, but came up short at the North Farmington Invite. The Mustangs won four of the eight flight championships to run away from the field. Adams won 1-2-3 singles, as Halle Hyman beat Mercy's Winnie Karoub in three tight sets at No. 1. Adams' Marla Seaver and Victoria Morin captured the 2-3 titles.
And at the Forest Hills Northern Quad, Bloomfield Hills Lahser battled a pair of Division 2's best, finishing third behind the host Huskies and Traverse City Central. Mollie Fox swept her way to the No. 1 singles championship. Teammates Jessica Dahm and Megan Sweet were also a perfect 3-0 en route to the title at No. 4 doubles.

Huge tournament this weekend
If the weather cooperates, this weekend's Ann Arbor Huron Invite should be one of the best tournaments of the season. Clarkston, Andover and Troy are among a number of great teams competing on Saturday. Saline and Ann Arbor Huron will also be there.

Coaches, please have your results called or emailed in to us here at The Oakland Press. We've had more matches called in this spring than ever before. But we're still missing a lot of schools and matches. I do really appreciate your help in getting the kids some well-deserved recognition. Please email them in to or call (248) 745-4775 by about 9 p.m. each weeknight and 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Great start to the girls tennis season

OK, I've got to admit, it's been a great start to the 2012 season. As always, all of the county's best teams do not shy away from great competition. And so far, we've seen some big early-season matches.
But what I've been bummed out about is the fact that some county team's have endured some early-season injuries and illnesses. I feel bad for the girls, and their teams. Seaholm suffered a big blow when junior No. 1 Nancy Benda went down with a stress fracture in her left foot. It's yet to be seen if she'll make it back before the state tournament rolls around. Let's hope she heals quickly, but not so quick as she re-aggravates it.
Cranbrook, a team I consider the favorite to win a Division 3 state title, has had to play the early portion of its schedule without sophomore No. 1 Alexandria Najarian - the defending state champion at her flight. She's been battling a stomach illness and is in the recovery stage. Her coaches are hoping she begins to feel better and thinks she might return to the court as soon as next week.
Clarkston had to play a couple matches without sophomore No. 2 Lexi Baylis, who was battling an illness herself. The Wolves, who lost their first two matches of the season, have fought back to beat Rochester and West Bloomfield to right their ship.

Like I said we've seen some great matchups so far. Seaholm looked great in a 6-3 win over Clarkston last week. Marian beat six-time defending Division 2 state champion Forest Hills Northern at their own tournament last weekend - although I think the Huskies surprised a lot of people by finishing just a point behind the Mustangs.
And in what might come as the biggest surprise to me so far was Andover's 7-2 win over Seaholm Tuesday in what might go down as the match that determined the regular-season champion in the OAA Red. Coach Josh Molino's team dominated the singles, dropping just 15 combined games. Kerry Hu looked great at No. 1, as did Kristen Law, Erin Weingarten and Stephanie Podolsky at 2-3-4. The Barons also won three of five doubles matches against the Maples.
I jumped Andover six spots in my latest county rankings, up to No. 2. I wanted to move them to No. 1, but figured they'll be facing No. 1 Marian this next Wednesday. Can't wait for that match.

I'll be doing a tennis feature every Friday for The Oakland Press and This week I went out to Farmington Hills Mercy to do a story on senior Margaux Kabodian. Check it out if you get a chance. Our latest county rankings are at the bottom of the story.

To all the tennis coaches who have called in results to The Oakland Press so far this season, thank you so much. I've noticed an increase in the amount of scores called in. But we've always got room for more, and I want every girl and team to get their results published. So please let me know if there's anything I can do to help you submit your scores.
Our phone line is (248) 745-4775 and our email is If you want to cc me on the email,, that's great. That way I can make sure it is forwarded to the proper people.

I'll be back with another blog early next week, so stay tuned. And I encourage all coaches to keep in touch with me if you have anything you'd like me to know about your team and players. I think it's great to give them all the exposure we can. And I'm always looking for story ideas, so please email me and we'll see what we can do.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oakland County tennis could claim four state titles in 2012

About two weeks ago, as I started gathering information for my 2012 Girls Tennis Preview, it seemed as if it was almost a foregone conclusion that Oakland County tennis teams would be heavily favored to bring home state championships in all four divisions.
Clarkston, the defending champs in Division 1, had a whole lot of firepower returning including much of what was by far the best singles lineup in the state last year, regardless of division. Seaholm and Marian - who finished 2-3 at last year's finals - were ready to take advantage of six-time defending Division 2 champion Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, which graduated 10 starters from last year's squad.
Over in Division 3, Cranbrook and Country Day once again were the teams to beat. No one else will really come close to the Cranes and Yellowjackets this year. And in Division 4, Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart returns 10 starters from last year's state runner-up squad. The Gazelles are ranked No. 1 and should battle it out with Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central for a chance to win the first state championship in school history.
But upon making phone calls and learning a bit more about just how good all of these teams were going to be this year, I began to realize that, though it could happen, it won't be easy for an Oakland County sweep in 2012.
Clarkston was the overwhelming favorite - and is ranked No. 1 in the state right now. But with Gabriella Spindler, a state semifinalist at No. 1 singles last year, deciding not to play this season, it really brings the Wolves back to the pack. I feel confident in senior No. 1 Katie Brozovich scoring some big points at this year's finals. And sophomore Lexi Baylis is a sure thing to repeat as state champion at No. 2. The No. 1 doubles team of Dana and Paige Olsen will also score well for coach Becky Freeman.
But what it will come down to is whether or not the team's depth (Nos. 3-4 singles and 3-4 doubles) will score enough for a Clarkston repeat. Port Huron Northern returns all four of its singles players, one half of its No. 1 doubles and both members of its No. 2 doubles team, a team that beat Clarkston at the finals last year.
And never count out Grosse Pointe South and Ann Arbor Pioneer, which always has depth and will score well at the lower flights.
Another team that suffered a huge blow was Birmingham Seaholm. The Maples lost junior No. 1 Nancy Benda to a stress fracture and will bump up their 2-3-4 singles. That weakens the team at each of those flights. Because of that, I'd have to say Birmingham Marian is the odds-on-favorite to capture the state title. I still think Marian, Seaholm and Andover will finish 1-2-3. I also like Farmington Hills Mercy to finish in the top-five.
In Division 3, like I said, Cranbrook and Country Day will finish 1-2, probably in that order. The season is young, but both schools return a good portion of last year's teams, which ran away from East Grand Rapids to finish first and second (Cranbrook won).
And in Division 4, I do see it coming down to Sacred Heart and St. Mary Catholic Central. Seeding and matchups will once again play a big role in who wins that title. But on paper, I'd give Sacred Heart the nod.

Odds to win a state title in 2012 - set my yours truly
Division 1
Clarkston 3 to 1
Division 2
Birmingham Marian 3 to 1
Birmingham Seaholm 5 to 1
Bloomfield Hills Andover 6 to 1
Farmington Hills Mercy 10 to 1
Division 3
Cranbrook Kingswood 2 to 1
Country Day 3 to 1
Division 4
Academy of the Sacred Heart 3 to 1

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Assault is assault, no matter where it takes place

On Wednesday, a judge dismissed charges against four Star International Academy football players who allegedly attacked a Lutheran Westland quarterback in the final minute of a game played back in October. Lutheran Westland was leading 48-6 at the time and the referees had informed both teams that the Westland QB was going to take a knee to run out the clock, and to take it easy.
Star International Academy players did not grant that request, instead the four players who were eventually charged with assault, decided to go after the quarterback. They hammered him into the ground, causing him to suffer a Grade III concussion - the worst.
Now the judge (Mark Plawecki) said "Whoever authorized these charges have apparently never watched a football game, let alone played." He went on to explain, "the game was over, the referee said to take a knee. But teams do not ordinarily take their orders of how to play out a game from the referee."
No, but any respectful and responsible player does listen - or take orders - from referees. Those who do not obviously have no respect for their opponents, the game or in this case, the law. Since when does the fact that this taking place on the playing field absolve these players from facing the severe consequences that should come with such actions?
This young man from Lutheran Westland didn't deserve this. There was obviously intent to hurt him. In everyday life if you or I take part in a scuffle in which we knock a person unconscious, we're going to face the consequences of our actions. I guess we just have to make sure we do it in the athletic arena.

For more coverage of this story, CLICK HERE.

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