Blue Devils, Norsemen, Knights advance to tennis states

By: Thomas Franz | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 20, 2014

 Grosse Pointe South’s Raven Neely hits a forehand return during a match at the MHSAA Division 1 regional tournament at Wimbledon Racquet Club on May 15.

Grosse Pointe South’s Raven Neely hits a forehand return during a match at the MHSAA Division 1 regional tournament at Wimbledon Racquet Club on May 15.

Photo by Sean Work

The girls tennis teams from Grosse Pointe South and Grosse Pointe North dominated their respective MHSAA regional tournaments on May 15 and May 16.

South took seven of eight flights to win its Division 1 regional tournament, while North also took seven flights to win a Division 2 regional title.

South sophomore Raven Neely won the No. 1 singles flight by defeating Troy 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

“I felt good. My serve and just moving the ball around to get her out of position was working. I was working on most of the stuff in my game so that can carry on to states,” Neely said.

Neely made it to the quarterfinal round at states last year as a freshman at West Bloomfield High School, but this year, she has higher expectations.

“This time, I hope to get to the finals, and hopefully, win it,” Neely said. “I’m just going to work on getting more consistent and having a game plan every time I step out onto the court.”

South’s No. 2 singles player, Madie Flournoy, defeated Troy in a final 6-2, 6-1. No. 3 singles player Brooke Willard defeated Troy 6-0, 6-2, and No. 4 singles Maddie Paolucci defeated Troy Athens 6-0, 6-2.

“We have an experienced team. Even with just three seniors there’s a lot of experience, and they’ve been through it, so I’m excited,” South coach Mark Sobieralski said.

South got three victories against Troy in doubles matches.

No. 1 doubles Samantha Perry and Maggie Sweeney won 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 doubles Sydney Keller and Morgane Flournoy won 6-4, 6-2; and the No. 4 doubles team of Ginny Hayden and Kelly Beardslee earned a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

“I was really happy with our No. 1 singles because the first time she played the girl she played in the final today, it was 6-3, 6-4. It was close, and today she won 6-1, 6-1, and it’s going to help us because we do comparative scores for the area seeding,” Sobieralski said. “At No. 1 doubles, winning 6-0, 6-1 was a big win for them, scorewise.”

Despite the impressive regional performance, Sobieralski said there was still work to do to be prepared for the state tournament.

“Up at states, you have a lot to deal with. You have a lot of pressure and how you handle it; things aren’t always going to go your way.  You can’t always play your best. We just really have to work on the mental aspect of the game because it’s going to be loud. It’s really crazy up there,” Sobieralski said.

Norsemen equally dominate
Grosse Pointe North won seven flights in its regional tournament on May 16.

In singles matches, North took three flights, all over Port Huron. At No. 1, Patricia Bajis won 6-0, 6-2; Lauren Lesha won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3; and Christina Rafaill won a marathon match at No. 4 singles 5-7, 7-6, 7-5.

The No. 1 doubles team of Jayla Hubbard and Kayla Gallant won 6-2, 6-0 over Warren Woods Tower. Dayle Maas and Sydnie Allor won 6-1, 6-0 over Warren Woods Tower in No. 2 doubles.

At No. 3 doubles, the team of Katelyn Carroll and Deanna Hanley defeated Port Huron 6-2, 6-1, and North’s No. 4 doubles team of Valentina Izzi and Anu Subramanian won 6-1, 6-1 over Tower.

The MHSAA Division 1 state championship will be played May 30-31 at the Midland Tennis Center. North’s Division 2 state tournament will take place in Holland on the same days.

Liggett advances in Division 4
University Liggett collected 24 points in its regional tournament at Almont on May 16 to secure a second-place team finish and qualify for the state finals.

The No. 4 doubles team of Renata Szymanski and Grace Drettmann highlighted the day for the Knights by winning their flight with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Liggett reached the finals in six other flights.

Sara Anthony (No. 2 singles), Jane Ninivaggi (No. 3 singles) and Hannah Homsy at No. 4 singles all made it through to their respective flight finals.

The No. 1 doubles team of Mara Hillyer and Caroline Eckrich were runners-up in their flight, as well as the No. 2 doubles team of Ellene Bricolas and Rita Sidhu, and the No. 3 doubles team of Rayna Patel and Gabby Cavataio.

The MHSAA Division 4 state final tournament is May 30-31 in Grand Blanc.