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TENNIS: Eisenhower singles standout leads county charge to states

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Four county teams will participate in the state tennis this weekend – and all are hoping for greatness.

In reality, though, it’s going to be a tough road for all four teams.

“The truth is, it’s going to be hard,” said Richmond coach Mike Pearson. “Some people won’t say it, but I will, there’s a big difference between private schools and public high schools. They recruit and there are a lot of private lessons and there are kids that are offered scholarships at these private schools just to play tennis.

“Our kids are excited and they’re dedicated, but it’s going to be a tough battle,” Pearson continued. “I don’t think anyone thinks it’s going to be easy.”

The Blue Devils will participate in the Division 3 championships – which will be held at Holland Christian Friday and Saturday.

“The last time we were at the state finals was 2009,” Pearson said. “There is some level of excitement. We missed the cut-off by two points a few years ago and four points last year – so it definitely feels good to make it.”

All four of Richmond’s singles players – David Schroudt, Adam Ozark, Mitchell West and Christian Failla – were flight champions, while three of the Blue Devils’ doubles teams were flight runners-up. Their number three doubles team of Adam Leduc and Vincent Ottenbacher was also a flight champion.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll do well,” Pearson said. “You never know, though, things can be hard when you start going up against seeded players.”

In Division 1 play, held at Midland Community Tennis Center, Eisenhower is participating in the state finals for the second straight year.

“Last year we scored five points and finished 14th, I think,” said first-year coach Kevin Donahue. “There were a couple years there, though, where we didn’t make it.”

Donahue says he’s thrilled his team will play on the big stage -- but he’s not sure what the outcome will be.

“You never can tell,” he said.

First singles player Ed Covalschi went unbeaten on the season and he’s ranked second in the state. Donahue says he has high hopes for all of his team, but especially for Covalschi.

“I think he could have been ranked first in the state if he wasn’t going up against the defending champion,” Donahue said. “I think he’s got a real shot. I think we’re all going to have a good time.”

The other Division 1 team participating is Romeo.

“We are very excited to qualify to the state finals and represent Macomb County,” said Romeo coach Mark Dubiel. “For Alex Vedolich, Andrew Reside, Jacob Rumschlag and Jake Petz, this is their second appearance at the state finals. We were there two years ago.”

The other county team left in the running is Division 4 Armada, which will play at Kalamazoo College.

“How can you not be proud of your team, especially when these guys come out and voluntarily compete,” said Armada coach Lane Hurd. “These are guys that want to be out here on the courts and they want to play the big match.”

Armada’s team is completely made up of regional flight champions and runners-up.

“This is a tough squad, and I hate to sound cliché, but we’ve got to take it one match at a time, one round at a time,” Hurd said. “The goal is to get to Saturday and then we’ll be OK. We just have to take it one day at a time.”

Last Updated: 10/18/2012 4:47:58 PM EST