Grosse Pointe South's girls tennis team won its 16th Division 1 state championship on Saturday afternoon at the Greater Midland Tennis Center with a slim victory win over Bloomfield Hills.
With a total of 30 points, South finished two points ahead of Bloomfield Hills and seven points ahead of third-place Midland Dow.
For South coach Mark Sobieralski, keeping his team focused on tennis, and not its No. 1 ranking throughout the season, made the difference in the end.
"The team all year was mentally strong," Sobieralski said. "We didn't talk about rankings. I told the girls to just play the tennis ball and let everyone else play against Grosse Pointe South."
The tournament turned on a single match. South's Kaitlin Ifkovits and Mairin Heimbuch defeated their Bloomfield Hills counterparts in straight sets in the semis of the No. 3 doubles flight. A Bloomfield Hills win there would have tied the tournament.
"Kaitlin (Ifkovits) was hurt last time we played Bloomfield Hills, so I didn't know what to expect." Sobieralski said. "She and Mairin (Heimbuch) played really well today. My freshmen also played a big role. We're a good blend of experienced kids and freshmen. Over the course of the tournament we did lose some close matches, but it wasn't for lack of working."
South got good contributions from its veteran players. Senior captains Laurel Sullivan, Gigi Bonnell and Alex Walz all made the semis of their respective flights.
Moira Hix represented South's most high-profile win, taking the No. 4 singles title match, 6-2, 6-2, over Dow's Claire Earley.
The triumph is Sobieralski's fourth state title.
"We've been clutch, but I really enjoyed that everyone on this team genuinely liked each other," Sobieralski said. "I've won championships where not everyone cares about each other, but that wasn't the case with this team."
In No. 1 singles, Ann Arbor Pioneer's Kari Miller defeated South's Lily Jones, 5-7, 6-0, 6-0.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern won its ninth Division 2 championship, finishing two points ahead of its closest competition.
Northern tallied 37 points with the help of Isabella Paul's victory in No. 3 singles and Alexis Pena's No. 4 singles title.
Birmingham Seaholm finished in second with 29 points and Birmingham Marian was third with 26.
Sloane Teske took home the No. 1 singles title for East Grand Rapids, dropping third-seeded Abigail Siminski from Northern, 6-3, 6-3.
Detroit Country Day secured its fourth consecutive Division 3 title with a dominating performance that saw it take six out of eight flights.
Country Day was led by No. 1 singles winner Monique Karoub, who took out Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood's Nina Govila, 6-0, 6-1, in the finals.
Cranbrook-Kingswood finished second with 26 points, paced by Charlotte Brown's No. 4 singles win over Fruitport's Hannah Kelly.
Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart laid claim to its second-straight Division 4 title and fourth out of the last five.
Thanks to a sweep of all four doubles flights, Sacred Heart (31 points) outdueled Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (23 points) and Grosse Ile (21 points) to stay on top in Division 4.
The No. 1 singles title was captured by Clarkston Everest Collegiate's Moorea McNalley, outlasting Grosse Pointe Woods Liggett's Melanie Zampardo, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.