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Grosse Ile captures first ever state girls tennis title WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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HOLLY – Given his tenure and how many people know him in the coaching ranks, this is going to be a very busy few days of accepting congratulations for Grosse Ile girls tennis coach John Shade.

Shade can harken back to the days of wooden rackets and less participation in the sport, given he took over as the boys coach at the school in 1972 and the girls program in 1973.

But while he has experienced two state titles with the boys, he had never gotten a taste of what it was like to win one with the girls.

Until Saturday.

For the first time in school history and the first time in Shade’s 42 years at the helm, Grosse Ile won a state title in girls tennis, capturing the Division 4 state crown at Holly on a sun-splashed morning/early afternoon.

The favorite going in, Grosse Ile only won state titles at No. 4 singles and No. 4 doubles, but its superior all-around depth produced 26 points, five ahead of runner-up Kalamazoo Christian.

Traverse City St. Francis was third with 20 points.

“I thought maybe at some point,” Shade said when asked if he ever thought a state title would ever happen for his girls program. “We had a taste of it last year.”

Grosse Ile indeed nearly won it last year, but finished three points behind champion Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart.

With much of that team returning, Shade and Grosse Ile rightfully had a good feeling all season that this would be the year.

“That was our goal from this date last year,” Shade said. “After last year, the girls had an idea of what was going on.”

Kennedy Quinn at No. 4 singles and the team of Rose Tucker and Casey Guthrie at No. 4 doubles produced the titles for Grosse Ile, but Ola Latala at No. 3 singles and the team of Karolina Kvasnitova and Elli Formentin at No. 2 doubles finished second in their respective flights to add more valuable points to Grosse Ile’s total.

Defending champ Sacred Heart finished sixth with 15 points, but Sacred Heart did produce a champion thanks to the doubles team of sophomore Gretchen Lemon and senior Sarah Spangler, who won the state title at No. 1 doubles.

Seeded No. 2, Lemon and Spangler defeated Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central’s Chrissy Flynn and Ella Anteau, which upset the No. 1 team of Gabrielle Kelly and Stephanie Kelly from Ludington in the semifinals.

Lemon and Spangler rallied after losing the first set to beat Flynn and Anteau, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

“In the first set, we didn’t really realize their disadvantages,” Lemon said. “In the second and third set, we figured it out and that is how we won.”

Colleen O’Brien of Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard finished off a perfect season by winning the title at No. 1 singles, defeating Calla Ramont of Lansing Catholic, 6-2, 6-3.

In the process, O’Brien avenged a loss in last year’s state final at No. 1 singles.

“I think I was motivated to win more,” O’Brien said. “I just never wanted to give up and keep fighting. Obviously last year I needed to fight a little more to win that match. I just had that mentality.”

Last Updated: 6/4/2014 1:57:19 AM EST

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