Heading into the second day of state championship play in Midland, MHSAA Division 1’s two most recent girls tennis champions, Midland Dow and Northville, were separated by a single point. And with a third challenger emerging in the form of Bloomfield Hills, it was anybody’s trophy heading into Saturday’s semifinals and finals.
Northville, the 2015 state champion, and Dow, which took home the hardware last season, have seen a lot of each other over the last three years. But after a grueling weekend of competition, each finished with 30 points, and the two schools will be the first-ever co-champions in Division 1.
It almost didn’t happen.
In the last match of the day, Northville sophomore Renee Torres was battling with Midland Dow’s Hadley Camp. They had split two meetings earlier in the year, and it was Camp who took the first set on Saturday.
No one dared tell Torres was what at stake. Had Camp held on, the title was, once again, solely Midland Dow’s.
“Nobody told her what was going on,” Northville head coach Linda Jones said. “At that point, she was just playing for her court.”
Torres locked it in, taking the final two sets in a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 triumph and securing a co-championship for Northville.
“The way those two have played each other this year,” Jones said. “It was just appropriate that it came down to a third set. (Torres) played so well.”
This is just the second time in the history of the MHSAA that a pair of girls tennis teams have finished tied at the Lower Peninsula state championships. It happened in Division 2 in 2014 when Birmingham Seaholm and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern shared the crown. Munising and Ishpeming-Westwood split the Division 2 Upper Peninsula title last season.
Jones brushed aside the notion that a shared title was anything less than an outright one.
“Are you kidding me?” she quipped. “We’re ecstatic. They’re a very good team. I thought it was appropriate since we won it two years ago and they won it last year.”
Northville and Midland Dow each took home three championships on Saturday, with Northville adding the number four singles, as well as the second flight in doubles. Midland Dow won titles in No. 2 singles, and added the third and fourth flights of doubles.
Bloomfield Hills fought valiantly, but ultimately settled for third place with 27 points.
Kari Miller of Ann Arbor Pioneer took home the top flight in singles with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Tia Mukherjee of Bloomfield Hills.
East Grand Rapids edged Grand Rapids Forest Hills northern to win its first girls tennis championship since it won a Division 3 title in 2009.
The teams entered the day separated by a single point, and they both swept all eight flights of competition. East Grand Rapids took home the top three singles championships and the fourth doubles flight. The difference proved to be Northern’s inability to advance past the quarterfinals in the top two singles and final doubles flight.
East Grand Rapids finished with 31 points, while Northern came in second with 28 and Bloomfield Hills Marian finished third with 21.
Sloane Teske of East Grand Rapids won the No. 1 singles flight with a hard-fought, comeback victory over Mason’s Olivia Hanover: 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Detroit Country Day secured its second consecutive and 11th overall MHSAA Division 3 girls tennis championship with a nearly flawless performance over the weekend.
Country Day racked up 39 of 40 possible points to nearly become the first state champion to win all eight flights of competition. All eight squads made the finals of their respective flight, but it was the third-ranked doubles team that came up just short, as Chloe Ward and Ruhi Nayak fell to Frances Dube and Ava Harb of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 6-7, 6-2, 2-6.
“We were so close,” Country Day coach Jessica Stencel said. “I know it’s hard being on a team where all your teammates win and one of the flights doesn’t. Knowing how hard they worked and how much they wanted it, and to lose a really close match is so hard. They were pretty upset, but they’re both juniors and I told them next year is going to be their year.”
Country Day’s Monique Karoub cruised to a singles title in the top flight, dropping just four games over four matches. She beat Imlay City’s Grace Whitney in the final, 6-0, 6-1.
“That’s pretty insane,” Stencel said. “To lose so few games is impressive. She led this team.”
Grand Rapids Christian finished second with 29 points.
Ann Arbor Greenhills and Jackson Lumen Christi each placed seven teams in the semifinals entering the second day of competition.
Ultimately, it was Greenhills’ four wins that propelled it to a comfortable margin of victory over Christi, 32-27.
Greenhills took home first in the third and fourth singles flight, as well as the second and third doubles flight.
Christi finished with the top performers in each of the top flights, with Taylor Smith taking home the title in No. 1 singles over top-seeded Natalie Moyer of Kalamazoo Hackett: 6-2, 6-2.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.