The Clarkston tennis team poses with the championship plaque after winning four flight championships en route to the OAA Red tournament title Thursday at Troy High School. (The Oakland Press/JASON SCHMITT)
Tennis - Girls
GIRLS TENNIS: Clarkston edges out Seaholm to win OAA Red tourney title WITH VIDEO
Clarkston junior Lexi Baylis hits a backhand during her match with Lahser's Mollie Fox Thursday. Baylis won the match, and the OAA Red title at No. 1 singles. (The Oakland Press/JASON SCHMITT)
Bloomfield Hills Lahser's Mollie Fox follows through on a backhand during her No. 1 singles championship match against Lexi Baylis Thursday. Baylis beat Fox for the OAA Red title. (The Oakland Press/JASON SCHMITT)
TROY — With all the parity the OAA Red girls tennis teams displayed throughout the regular season, it was befitting that in the end just a single point separated the top two teams at the league tournament Thursday at Troy High School.
Clarkston captured four flight championships and finished runner-up at two more to help it edge out Birmingham Seaholm for the tournament title. That, coupled with its regular-season crown, gave the Wolves the overall OAA Red championship.
“It feels good, it feels like it should,” Clarkston coach Becky Freeman said. “The girls worked really hard. They’re exhausted. I’m exhausted. (But) it’s fun. They’re a great group of girls.”
Clarkston finished with 43 team points, edging out Seaholm, which finished a single point back at 42. Junior Lexi Baylis led the way, defeating Bloomfield Hills Lahser’s Mollie Fox, 6-3, 6-0, in the championship match at No. 1 singles. Baylis, the top seed, defeated West Bloomfield’s Raven Neely in the semifinals, while Fox knocked off Rochester Adams’ Halle Hyman in the other half of the draw.
“I thought I played really well today. I was really focused and on my game,” said Baylis, who did not drop a set in her two victories. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking about my team. Since no one was really here (at the Athens site), it was just one through three singles, it was tough not having them here. But in the back of my mind they were always there, helping me to strive to do better and play the best tennis that I could.”
Her teammates must’ve been thinking the same thing. Junior Dana Olsen and sophomore Katie Hubregsen won league titles at Nos. 3-4 singles. Olsen needed three sets to get by West Bloomfield’s Sara Cahn, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, to win the No. 3 title. Hubregsen, the 2-seed at No. 4 singles, defeated top-seeded Meryl Reams of Lahser. The two split the first two sets before Reams retired, down 3-0, in the third.
The Wolves’ other title came at No. 1 doubles, where junior Paige Olsen and freshman Alex Whall rallied from a set down to beat Seaholm’s Nancy Benda and Jackie Meier, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the finals.
Seaholm, which fell to Clarkston 5-4 during the regular season and finished 5-1 in league play, saw each of its five doubles teams reach the championship match. The Maples picked up titles at No. 2 doubles, as well as at No. 4.
Sophomores Rachel Wilson and Laine Boitos dropped just three games in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Troy’s Hope and Claire Keating in the No. 2 final. At No. 4, senior Lauren Benderoff and freshman Sam Lareau held off Clarkston’s Caitlin McCaghy and Mackenzie Sowers in the final, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
“This is exactly – after a 5-4 encounter with Clarkston – I kind of expected it to have this look,” Seaholm coach Scott Ransome said. “A couple of flights surprised us, by ourselves, where we played better where we may have been struggling. I’m sure Clarkston experienced a couple surprises of their own.”
West Bloomfield finished third with 38 points, followed closely by Bloomfield Hills Andover (37). The host Colts totaled 32 points, while Lahser had 25 and Rochester Adams 21 to round out the seven team field.
Leading the way for the Lakers was senior Aerielle Pendleton, who defeated Clarkston freshman Isabella Spindler, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in an exciting championship final at No. 2 singles. Spindler entered the tournament as the top-seed, having beaten Pendleton in straight sets during the regular season.
Troy junior Lillian Liang and freshman Deepthi Devireddy won in straight sets over Seaholm’s Maddie George and Emily McDermott in the No. 2 doubles final, 6-2, 6-2. The Colts’ tandem was the top seed entering the tournament.
Andover picked up the remaining individual flight championship, that coming at No. 5 doubles. Seniors Lesley Alter and Hanna Klayman, the 4-seed, upset top-seeded Troy in the semifinals before beating Seaholm’s Emily Benderoff and Caity Buechner in the final, 6-3, 6-2.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” said Freeman, whose Wolves won the Division 1 state championship in 2011 before finishing runner-up last year. “A few of the (flights) I need to peak later are peaking late. I want them improving and moving forward and getting better.”
Jason Schmitt covers girls tennis for The Oakland Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school tennis coverage on Twitter @JasonESchmitt.OAA Red Tournament
TEAM SCORES — Clarkston 43 points, Birmingham Seaholm 42, West Bloomfield 38, Bloomfield Hills Andover 37, Troy 32, Bloomfield Hills Lahser 25, Rochester Adams 21
CHAMPIONSHIP SINGLES — 1. Lexi Baylis (C) d. Mollie Fox (BHL) 6-3, 6-0; 2. Aerielle Pendleton (WB) d. Isabella Spindler (C) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; 3. Dana Olsen (C) d. Sara Cahn (WB) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; 4. Katie Hubregsen (C) d. Meryl Reams (BHL) 1-6, 6-1, 3-0 (retired)
CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES — 1. Paige Olsen-Alex Whall (C) d. Nancy Benda-Jackie Meier (BS) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3; 2. Rachel Wilson-Laine Boitos (BS) d. Hope Keating-Claire Keating (T) 6-2, 6-1; 3. Lillian Liang-Deepthi Devireddy (T) d. Maddie George-Emily McDermott (BS) 6-2, 6-2; 4. Lauren Benderoff-Sam Lareau (BS) d. Caitlin McCaghy-Mackenzie Sowers (C) 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2; 5. Leslie Alter-Hanna Klayman (BHA) d. Emily Benderoff-Caity Buechner (BS) 6-3, 6-2
FINAL LEAGUE STANDINGS (Regular season and tournament) — 1. Clarkston; 2. Seaholm; 3. West Bloomfield; 4. Andover; 5. Troy; 6. Lahser; 7. Rochester Adams