Boys tennis: Dominant Okemos defeats Ann Arbor Pioneer for school's first Division 1 crown
Okemos defeated Ann Arbor Pioneer 8-0 in the last match to win the MHSAA Division 1 Boys Tennis Finals, which took place Thursday and Friday at Novi High School.
The championship caps an undefeated 29-0 season record for Okemos and its third state championship in four years.
The school's first two state championships in 2017 and '18 came in Division 2. All three have come under head coach Chris Silker, who’s in his final season.
“This is my 11th year coaching. I have three children and a growing career and this was a fairy-tale ending for my team,” Silker said.
Ann Arbor Huron, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Okemos and Troy made it to the semifinals. Okemos held a dominant performance for the entire tournament. The team defeated Grand Blanc 8-0, then Novi at 7-1 in the second round and 7-1 against Troy in the semifinals. Pioneer met Okemos in the finals after beating rival Huron in the semifinals 6-2.
“Our win today showed how focused we were all year. It was what we were prepping for, practicing for, and praying for. With the circumstances, I couldn’t be more thankful for the MHSAA volunteers and staff to make it all happen as well,” Silker said.
Rohan Shah, Diego Casagrande and Abhi Shukul stood out for Okemos, Silker said. Shah played in the singles match against Isaac Herrenkohl that resulted in a tiebreaker. Shah came away with the victory 7-5. Casagrande and Shukul were paired in a doubles match against Pioneer and the pair finished on top in the final match of the tournament.
“Rohan played incredibly in the match against Herrenkohl," Silker said. "My doubles team (Casagrande and Shukul) have been on varsity for three years and I am proud that they had this opportunity,” Silker said.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern defeated Mattawan High School 7-1 in the state championship held at the Greater Midland Tennis Center. Forest Hills Northern took down Wyandotte Roosevelt and Walled Lake Central in the first two rounds.
Birmingham Seaholm reached the semifinals after defeating Warren De La Salle and Birmingham Groves in rounds one and two. Forest Hills Northern took Seaholm out 5-3 to advance. This was Forest Hills Northern’s second straight state title.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Ann Arbor Greenhills tied 4-4 for the state championship held at Holland Christian High School. Greenhills advanced by defeating St. Clair 6-2 in the semifinals. Cranbrook Kingswood reached the finals after winning 6-2 over Detroit
Country Day. Cranbrook Kingswood first defeated Parma Western 8-0 in the opening round and then also swept East Grand Rapids 8-0 in the quarterfinals. Greenhills swept Goodrich and Allegan in the first and second round.
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett won the finals 8-0 against Hudsonville Unity Christian at Portage Central High School. Liggett defeated Chesaning Union in the first round, Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the second and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep in the semifinals.
This was University Liggett’s third championship in five years, all under head coach Mark Sobieralski. Grosse Ile lost 7-1 in the first round to Hackett Catholic. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep also lost in the first round, falling short to Williamston 5-3.
Zach Sturgill is a freelance writer.