The Clarkston tennis team hoists the trophy after winning the Division 1 state championship Saturday at the Midland Community Tennis Center. The Wolves edged out Ann Arbor Pioneer for the school's first team title. (The Oakland Press/JASON SCHMITT)
Tennis - Girls
GIRLS TENNIS: Clarkston captures Division 1 state championship
Birmingham Seaholm players celebrate with their runner-up trophy from the Division 2 state finals Saturday at Jenison High School. The Maples finished second to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern. (Photo contributed/BRUCE BENDA)
MIDLAND – Celebration needs no rehearsal.
Good thing for the Clarkston tennis team.
The Wolves broke protocol twice Saturday afternoon, once after freshman Lexi Baylis clinched at least a share of the Division 1 state championship, and again, after senior Kristina Lucas won it outright. The team mobbed their second and fourth singles players upon leaving the court, causing officials to politely tell them they had to take it off to the side.
In the end, the team got it right as they were awarded the championship trophy at the Midland Community Tennis Center. The title was the first in school history.
“It feels tremendous. It’s awesome,” said Clarkston coach Becky Freeman. “The girls worked so hard in the offseason. And we did all of our tournaments, we played many matches and we never lost. This is where we should be. This is what they should have done and they came up here and did it.”
The Wolves were ranked No. 1 entering the weekend, thanks to a well-balanced lineup that earned seeds at every flight. Seven of eight flights reached the second day of the tournament. Entering this season, Clarkston’s doubles teams had won a total of five matches in the school’s seven previous state finals.
This year’s lineup won six.
Dana and Paige Olsen (at No. 1), Olivia Dunn and Allie Wilson (at No. 3) and Annie Gencay and Monique Zentner (at No. 4) all won their opening two matches to score the nine team points.
“To have seven (flights) in the semis, coming into Day 2, was tremendous,” Freeman said. “To have nine points from the three doubles (teams) was what pushed us over the edge. We’ve had singles, we’ve always known our singles players could do it, but now we have a well-rounded program and a well-rounded team.”
But that team was led by a dominant singles lineup, which helped Clarkston scored 27 points, two more than runner-up Ann Arbor Pioneer (25).
Junior Katie Brozovich joined Baylis and Lucas as individual champions. Brozovich got things going for the Wolves, as she knocked off Midland Dow’s Kelli Close, 6-2, 6-3, in the No. 3 singles final. A state runner-up a year ago at No. 2 singles, Brozovich was determined this year. She lost just 11 games in four matches to finish the season unbeaten.
Baylis did the same. The first-year high school player also did not drop a set over the weekend and finished the year undefeated. She cruised past Midland Dow’s Christina Auyeung, 6-2, 6-1, in her championship final. The two players had played a three-set match earlier this year, with Baylis winning that, as well.
Lucas’s title was her second straight. She won the No. 3 singles championship a year ago. She avenged her only loss of the year in the final, defeating Midland Dow’s Katie Close, 6-4, 6-4. Lucas was determined to leave Clarkston a champion. The last time these two met, her family had all left the state to attend the funeral of her aunt. Although she won’t admit it, her mind wasn’t necessarily on the court back in May.
“It did affect me (a little), but I’m not saying that’s the reason I lost,” Lucas said after winning her title. “(Today) I knew I had to put everything into this match and focus.”
No. 1 singles player Gabriella Spindler fell in her semifinal match to L’Anse Creuse’s Alix Thurman, 6-3, 6-2. Thurman went on to championship match, where she fell in three, tough sets to Rochester’s Kelsey Dieters.
Midland Dow finished third overall with 21 points, followed by Grosse Pointe South (17) and Port Huron Northern (14). Rochester, aided by Dieter’s championship, and Troy finished in a tie for 10th place with 10 points. Novi (nine) finished 11th overall.
Novi’s Meng Meng Jie and Amy Zhou defeated Clarkston’s Gencay and Zentner to reach the No. 4 doubles final, before falling to Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Shreya Bahl and Anna Borowicz.
Cranbrook edges out Country Day for D-3 title
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, led by freshman Alexandria Najarian, captured the Division 3 state championship at Kalamazoo College.
Najarian, the No. 2 seed, knocked off top-seeded Molly Wickman in the No. 1 singles championship match, 6-3, 6-1, to lead her team to the title. Cranbrook finished with 33 team points, one ahead of runner-up Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
“Our entire team played the best tennis at the state tournament,” Cranbrook co-coach Jeff Etterbeek said. “We were caught by surprise by Haslett’s three and four singles, but Alex Najarian beat Molly Wickman and that was really the difference in the state tournament.”
Cranbrook also took home titles in three of the four doubles flights. Samantha Bowers and Natasha Dabrowski beat Allegan’s Hannah Schulz and Christin Drozd in straight sets in the No. 1 doubles final. Rachel Hubers and Alissa Rowens beat Country Day’s Chelsea Dahline and Mia Jefferson at No. 2, while Claire Huttenlocher and Maria Landi captured the No. 4 doubles title after beating Country Day’s Ellie Miller and Shruthi Nammalwar.
Country Day kept things close with championships at No. 3 singles (Amabel Karoub), No. 4 singles (Madelyn Karoub) and at No. 3 doubles (Nadia Alhadi and Sara Shea).
“Last year we lost the state championship by one point, and we did not win a single flight,” Etterbeek said. “This year we won four flights and we won by a point. It’s amazing what you have to do to win a state tournament. “
GRFHN runs away with D-2 championship
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern entered the Division 2 finals ranked No. 1. And the Huskies left just the same, after capturing the team state championship in impressive fashion.
Northern won all four doubles flights and finished with 33 team points. Birmingham Seaholm was runner-up with 26, followed by Birmingham Marian (23), Bloomfield Hills Andover (22) and Portage Northern (17). Bloomfield Hills Lahser was seventh overall with 10 points.
Marian’s Elaine Apaza won the No. 3 singles title, defeating Andover’s Erin Weingarten in straight sets in the final.
Seaholm’s Lauren Frazier, the No. 5 seed, knocked off the top two seeds in the tournament to take home the No. 4 singles title. She beat Northern’s Angel Wang in the final, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
Sacred Heart can’t catch NPC in D-4
The seeds held up at the Division 4 state tournament in Holly. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian fended off Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart to take home the title.
NPC finished with 25 team points, winning two flight championships along the way. Sacred
Heart, ranked No. 2 behind the top-ranked Mustangs heading into the tournament, won the No. 2 doubles championship as Hannah Gerard and Mary Liesveld defeated Portland in the final, 6-3, 6-3. The Gazelle’s No. 3 doubles team of Hannah Forte and Elia Wilson lost in their championship match, 6-2, 4-6, 4-6.
Jason Schmitt covers girls’ tennis for The Oakland Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @MIPrepZone and read his “In the Zone” blog at MIPrepZone.com for more on the state tennis finals.