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Clarkston freshman Lexi Baylis has been flawless playing No. 2 singles for the Wolves this season. She's the top seed at the Division 1 state tournament in Midland, and looks to help top-ranked Clarkston to its first-ever state championship. (The Oakland Press file photo/JOSE JUAREZ)

Tennis - Girls

GIRLS TENNIS: Clarkston, Cranbrook among the favorites to bring home titles

Birmingham Seaholm won a regional championship and was rewarded with a No. 2 ranking in the final coaches' poll. The No. 1 doubles team of Elizabeth Gunckle (right) and Labina Petrovska won the regional championship and are seeded 2nd for this weekend's Division 2 finals at Jenison High School. (The Oakland Press file photo/JOSE JUAREZ)

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood's Sammy Bowers (left) and Natasha Dabrowski hope to celebrate after this weekend's Division 3 state finals at Kalamazoo College. The Cranes' top doubles pairing are seeded No. 1. In fact, all four of Cranbrook's doubles teams earned top seeds this weekend. (The Oakland Press file photo/JOSE JUAREZ)

Birmingham Detroit Country Day No. 1 singles player Andrea Rivera is the No. 3 seed for this weekend's Division 3 state finals. She helped the team win a state title last year. This season, the second-ranked Yellowjackets are looking to knock off No. 1 Cranbrook. (The Oakland Press file photo/JOSE JUAREZ)

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For much of the season, Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Birmingham Detroit Country Day have been the best tennis teams in Oakland County.

And while we’re on that point, they’ve been perhaps the best three teams in the entire state. It would be hard to argue that point. Clarkston is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Division 1, while Cranbrook and Country Day are ranked 1-2 in Division 3.

All three schools, along with a slew of others, will try to make a point at this weekend’s MHSAA state tennis finals, which will be held at four sites around the state Friday and Saturday.

The Wolves will be the favorites at the Division 1 finals in Midland, although coach Becky Freeman has tried her best to downplay those sentiments, which are shared by pretty much everyone in the tennis world.

“We are playing this as the underdogs,” Freeman proclaimed. “Clarkston has never won it. We have never won a state title and many other teams have. They have an advantage.”

Clarkston received two No. 1 seeds — Lexi Baylis at No. 2 singles and Katie Brozovich at No. 3 — and is seeded second at three more. All eight flights received seeds. No other school was seeded eight times.

Gabriella Spindler is the second seed at No. 1 singles. Rochester’s Kelsey Dieters is undefeated and the top seed. Dieters beat Spindler in straight sets twice this season. They were Spindler’s only losses.

Clarkston’s Kristina Lucas (No. 4 singles) and Olivia Dunn and Allie Wilson (No. 3 doubles) are also No. 2 seeds for the tournament, which will be played at the Midland Community Tennis Center.

Troy, which won a regional title, Novi, a runner-up, and Troy Athens, by points, will join Clarkston and Rochester in Midland. Midland Dow and Ann Arbor Pioneer, both of whom Clarkston beat soundly this year, will provide the biggest challenge to the Wolves.

In Division 2 at Jenison High School, five-time defending state champion Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern will once again be the team to beat. The Huskies have been ranked No. 1 all season and beat then-No. 2 Birmingham Marian in six out of eight flights to win their own tournament earlier this year.

The Mustangs, who shared the state title with Northern last season, will be in the mix, however. Marian was seeded in all eight flights and earned top seeds at both No. 2 and No. 3 singles. Kelly Lunghamer and Elaine Apaza picked up their team’s lone victories over Northern.

Another team who could contend is No. 2 ranked Birmingham Seaholm, which avenged a 5-3 loss to Marian to win the regional championship at Marian High School. Sophomore Nancy Benda earned the second seed at No. 1 singles for the Maples, which leapfrogged both Marian and Bloomfield Hills Andover in the final regular season state rankings.

Seaholm earned No. 2 seeds at four different flights and seven out of eight overall.

“We’re looking forward to rematching with Forest Hills Northern,” Seaholm coach Scott Ransome said. “From our first encounter (with them) we’ve learned a little bit more about our competitive selves.”

Andover, which also won a regional championship, should also be in the mix. Coach Steve Herdoiza’s team picked up seeds at seven flights, including a top seed at No. 2 doubles with Paige Atkinson and Hailey Brownstein.

Over in Division 3 at Kalamazoo College, Cranbrook and Country Day will be squaring off for the third time this season. It looks like it will be a three-horse race for the title, with the Cranes and Yellowjackets a step ahead of third-ranked East Grand Rapids.

The Cranes beat Country Day, 5-3, in their regular-season match, and followed it up by winning five of eight flights at the regional to win the championship. Led by freshman Alexandria Najarian, Cranbrook received seven seeds, and is seeded No. 1 in all four doubles flights.

Country Day received eight seeds, including No. 1 seeds at Nos. 2-4 singles. The Yellowjackets are seeded second or third in all the doubles flights.

CLICK HERE FOR A LOOK AT THE DIVISION 4 FINALS

Jason Schmitt covers girls’ tennis for The Oakland Press. Email him at jason.schmitt@oakpress.com, follow him on Twitter @MIPrepZone and read his “In the Zone” blog at MIPrepZone.com or by CLICKING HERE

Last Updated: 6/2/2011 9:49:16 AM EST


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