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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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Match of the year - Country Day and Brother Rice

It really is too bad that tennis doesn't follow the same state tournament format as high school wrestling. There's something about the excitement of a dual match that you just can't get in a tournament format. So we're left to enjoy great matchups during the regular season, just like the one I got to see Wednesday at Country Day.
(The Oakland Press/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
Country Day junior Max Fliegner beat Brother Rice's
Gunnar Peery 7-6 (7), 6-3 Wednesday
as his Yellowjackets beat the Warriors, 6-2.
The host Yellowjackets welcomed in Brother Rice in what I consider a matchup of the two best tennis teams in the entire state - regardless of divisions. Country Day is the best team - bar none - as was evidenced in its 6-2 win over the Warriors. Its strength at the top (Max Fliegner, Sven Kranz and Rishi Patel) is unmatched. And its depth is just as impressive. Seniors Alex Gruskin and Patrick Adams anchor what could be a doubles lineup that does some big damage at the Division 3 state tournament.
But I was just as impressed with Brother Rice. When you're playing a team that's as talented, and deep, as Country Day is, it would be easy to just roll over and look ahead to the next match. But Rice didn't do that Tuesday. Gunnar Peery really impressed me with his play against Fliegner - who is one of the best players in the state in all divisions. It was a really entertaining first set - which Fliegner took in a tiebreaker. Peery is going to be lumped into what I would venture to say will be the most talented No. 1 singles draw at the Division 1 state tournament in many, many years. If he continues to play the way he did Wednesday, he could be a darkhorse to score a few points for the Warriors.
And though Country Day did win three of four singles matches Wednesday, I think the quartet of Peery, Jack Hamaty, Chase Peery and Michael Ciraci is going to give most Division 1 teams a fit this season. Same thing goes for Warriors' doubles teams. Juniors Blake and Joey Hildebrand played Gruskin and Adams tough and are easily a top-four seed at the state tournament, with a chance to go all the way. George Hamaty and Johnny Cameron, Brendan Dillon and Connor Parks and David Weatherford and Dan Lunhamer proved Rice will have the depth in doubles to beat anyone - other than Country Day - this season.

That brings me back to the Yellowjackets, who I ranked No. 1 just ahead of Brother Rice in my preseason rankings.  Fliegner, Kranz, Patel and Max Shanbrom - who was committed to another event and did not play Wednesday - are uber talented. I see a possible sweep at the Division 3 finals.
And the doubles are extremely deep as well. Gruskin and Adams looked really good Wednesday. They were my No. 1-ranked doubles team, just ahead of the Hildebrands. And they didn't disappoint. Max Lee and Lorenz Gahn beat a Rice tandem (Hamaty-Cameron) that I think will win a state title in Division 1. Blake Burstein and Rishab Nayak dropped their match to Brendan Dillon and Connor Parks. But I think that's another pair that may win a state title. And Matt Stebbins and D.J. Bailey rolled in their No. 4 doubles match.
It was great to see the best play each other. Country Day - if it stays health - will win a state championship. This was a chance to see how it stacked up against what I consider the favorite in Division 1. As fun as it is to watch a team compete for a state title, I found yesterday's match to be just as exciting.
The complete results of the match are below. And they also ran in today's Oakland Press and on MIPrepZone - with a couple photos and some video highlights of the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles matches at the bottom.

SINGLES: Max Fliegner (CD) d. Gunnar Peery 7-6 (7), 6-3; Sven Kranz (CD) d. Jack Hamaty 6-0, 6-2; Rishi Patel (CD) d. Chase Peery 6-1, 6-4; Michael Ciraci (BR) d. Noah Karoub 6-3, 7-6 (4)
DOUBLES: Alex Gruskin-Patrick Adams (CD) d. Blake Hildebrand-Joey Hildebrand 7-6 (6), 6-2; Max Lee-Lorenz Gahn (CD) d. George Hamaty-Johnny Cameron 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5); Brendan Dillon-Connor Parks (BR) d. Blake Burstein-Rishab Nayak 7-5, 6-3; Matt Stebbins-D.J. Bailey (CD) d. David Weatherford-Dan Lunghamer 6-2, 6-3
RECORDS: Country Day 2-0, Brother Rice 7-1

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