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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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oakland County teams dominate regionals - up next, states

Brother Rice's Connor Parks, George Hamaty
Blake Hildebrand and Sean Aberlarde relax
at the D-1 regional at Woodhaven.
How sweep it is
I've seen Oakland County teams do a lot in the few years I've covered the boys and girls tennis beats. But I can't recall a time where t hree teams swept their regional. That happened this past weekend. 
Country Day and Cranbrook held their annual regional dual, with the Yellowjackets cruising to a sweep of the eight flights. Well, actually they did not cruise at every flight. Marc Sable gave Rishi Patel all he could handle (in three sets) at 1-singles. Same for 4-dubs, where Andrew Joslyn and Brendan Childress needed three sets to beat Cranbrook's Alex Hubers and Steven Meng.
I was up at Clarkston on Thursday and the talk was about how tough the regional was. Five quality teams, all of which could have made it out to states had they been placed in other regions, battled each other for the right to move on. In the end, Rochester Adams and Bloomfield Hills picked up the automatic spots (top two), while Clarkston made it out with 19 team points, deservedly-so.
One team that was missing from the regional was Brother Rice. The Warriors were busy cleaning up down in Woodhaven. All eight flights won titles for Rice, which faced far inferior competition Downriver. It's one of those situations where I wish a second quality Oakland County team would have went down there with them - Bloomfield Hills perhaps? That would have opened up a potential spot for a team like West Bloomfield or Rochester.
Regardless, Rice took advantage of the competition and did not drop a set in the finals. In fact, the Warriors lost just 10 games in those eight flight finals - 10! Blake Hildebrand, Chase Peery, John Ciraci and Jack Winkler swept singles, while George Hamaty-Connor Parks, Joey Hildebrand-David Weatherford, Joe Paradiso-Brendan Dillon and Dan Lunghamer-Patrick Hamil dropped a combined three games in doubles.
And over in Novi, the host Wildcats swept their Division 1 regional, one that included both Northville and Catholic Central - both of whom also advanced to Midland this weekend. Tim Wang, Andre Liu, Koushik Kondapi and Maxx Anderson all won singles regional titles. Michael Chang-Andrew Ying, Shashank Chitta-Kevin Xu, Tim Lu-Daniel Yu and David Mehl-Raymond Wen swept doubles. Like Brother Rice, the Wildcats did not drop a set in the final round.
Country Day is the big favorite to win the Division 3 title. Both Rice and Novi are top-3 teams looking to knock off two-time defending state champion Ann Arbor Huron. I'll be in Midland Saturday to see how that one plays out.
They're not alone
Though DCD, Rice and Novi swept their regions in qualifying for the state finals, a few other teams also won regional championships on Thursday and Friday. Rochester Adams - as I mentioned above - won the tough Clarkston regional. Justin Hyman, Oliver Li and Charles Xu led the Highlanders with regional titles at 1-2-3 singles. Ashish Tripathi-Silvester Jang and David Wang-Kritin Arya gave Adams five regional champions with their wins at No. 2 and 4 doubles.
Once again, Troy traveled over to Grosse Pointe South and flexed its muscles against both the hosts and cross-town rival, Athens. The Colts reached the finals in seven different flights, winning five of them. Vinai Reddy (#2) and Sal Kagithala (#4) won in singles, while the 2-3-4 doubles teams of Vince Thieu-Sachin Ketkar, Andre Ingram-Pramod Mulabagula and Kevin Fietsam-Mark Elinski. 
Richard Zhang won at No. 1 singles, helping Athens once again qualify for the state finals. He'll be looking to do some damage this weekend, as the #4 seed in the Division 1 draw.
North Farmington took advantage of the Bloomfield Hills schools merge (with no more Andover and Lahser in their draw), rolling to a Division 2 regional title on its home courts. All eight flights made the final round, with Griffin Mertz (#1 singles), David Kagan (#4 singles), Colin Halow-Danny O'Neill (#1 dubs), Noah Garber-Rob Chapekis (#2 dubs), Rakesh Rajakumar-Brody Clarke (#3 dubs), Aadithya Pramod-Sudhu Srinivasan (#4 dubs) winning regional titles. No one challenged the Raiders. Dearborn Divine Child also took advantage of the unification of Lahser and Andover, qualifying for the D-2 Finals by finishing runner-up.
I found myself once again mistaken when predicting D-2 regional over at Birmingham Groves. No, I said Seaholm would win the regional - which it did. But I said it was a two-team race (yes, which it was). But what I didn't see was Berkley sneaking in with enough points to join the Maples and Falcons at states. So congrats to the Bears.
Seaholm stepped it up, winning five of the eight flight championships. Zaven Dadian and Rocko Gibout won their flights at 2-3 singles. Kenji Johnston and Griffin Neel, Francisco Lleyva and Andrew Latessa, and Chris Breeden and Alex Cross won doubles titles at 1-2-3 doubles. I'm not even sure coach Scott Ransome saw his team performing that well on Friday. Or maybe he did. I just don't know!
Holly coach Will Sophiea (left) and younger
brother Jeff (#1 singles) pose with their mother
Elise after Jeff won a regional title last week.
One coach who did know how well his team would play was Will Sophiea up in Holly. The Bronchos used their depth to edge out Flushing for a D-2 regional title. Senior Jeff Sophiea finally got his regional title, topping the field at No. 1 singles. He was not alone. Parker Cuthbert-Taylor Mills (#2), Zac Goodrich-Dillon Sink (#3) and Morgan Baylis-Aaron Vergith (#4) all won regional doubles championships to put their team over the top. Holly will need that depth to perform well at states if it wants a shot at a top-10 finish. With Lahser and Andover out, the door is open for a few of those "Top-15" teams to take the next step. But their doubles will have to score. Holly was 15th last year (with four points).
Back to the Sophieas. It was cool to see Jeff win his first regional title. Big brother (and coach) Will waited until his senior season to win his first regional championship as well. Proud day for mom, for sure.
A big thank you to all
By the way, I want to thank all of you tennis followers. We've created Tout (video) widgets for each of our seven fall sports. You can watch tennis videos there (it's on our tennis home page on MIPrepZone and at the bottom of this blog post) or on my home page (LOCATED HERE). My point is that tennis ranks No. 2 of those seven sports - trailing only football. And it's not even close. My tennis videos have been watched more than 3,200 times. So thank you.
More on the way
Stay tuned as I will be writing up blog about the seeds for the state tournament, which were released today. And later on Wednesday/early Thursday, I'll be offering up my predictions for the finals. Watch my tennis videos below. And remember, you can shoot Tout videos yourself. Just download the app, shoot some tennis-related videos and use the hashtag #miprepzonetennis and they'll appear in our widget. Try it. I can't be everywhere this weekend, so I'd love to see some people helping me out!

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