Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe WoodsOctober 23, 2013
South, North compete at state finals
By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer
GROSSE POINTE — When the 2013 tennis season started, Victor Flynn and Will Norris had one goal for their season: to get to the second day of the state finals.
Flynn and Norris accomplished that this past weekend at the MHSAA Division 1 state tournament held in Midland. The pair defeated teams from Detroit Catholic Central and Bloomfield Hills to advance to the semifinals, where they were beaten by eventual flight champion Ann Arbor Huron.
“It was truly an outstanding performance by No. 1 doubles. That was their goal all year to make it to the semis, and they did extremely well,” South coach John Willard said.
South earned nine points as a team at the state tournament to finish in a tie for ninth place.
Junior Nicholas Paolucci won his opening round match in the No. 1 singles flight against Livonia Churchill 6-0, 6-1.
“He’s (Paolucci) improved; he’s playing much better tennis. He had a great performance winning one singles match. It’s very tough to win at No. 1 singles, but he did a great job of competing. He’s looking forward to his senior year,” Willard said.
A surprise performance from South came from freshman Patrick Willard, who advanced to the quarterfinals by upsetting the No. 6 seed (Clarkston) in his flight 6-4, 6-1.
“Patrick (Willard) played the best match of his high school career. We weren’t expecting him to win that,” Willard said.
In addition to the performance at No. 1 doubles, every other South doubles team won a match at the state tournament. Stephen VanWalleghem and Mikey Schaller (No. 2), Brendan Clune and Nick Costakis (No. 3), and Brian L’Heureux and Tomas Garberding (No. 4) all won first-round matches to bring home a point for South.
For Grosse Pointe North, Jacob Zacharias led the way by advancing to the quarterfinals in the No. 1 singles flight at the Division 2 state finals. Zacharias earned victories against Riverview Gabriel Richard and Alpena before losing to the eventual flight runner-up from Midland Dow.
North’s No. 3 doubles team of Tom Rafaill and Zack Josefiak brought home the other point by defeating Grand Rapids Northview in their opening round match 6-0, 6-4.
“I thought the kids played great. They left it all out there on the court. The most touching point is when you see the seniors kissing the court when they walk off from their last match, so that was really cool,” North coach John VanAlst said.
Zacharias, Matthew Kain (No. 2 singles), Connor Olzem (No. 1 doubles), Josh Champney (No. 2 doubles), Rafail and Zack Josefak were this year’s seniors for North.
“This was a great season because the team fit very well together. They cared about each other and came together as a team. They matured throughout the season and were a top-notch group of guys. They had great character in winning and losing,” VanAlst said.
Ann Arbor Huron won the Division 1 state title with 30 points while Midland Dow took home the Division 2 championship with 37 points.
Division 4 at Grand Blanc and Holly
Ann Arbor Greenhills continued its run of domination, winning the program’s sixth straight state championship. Greenhills finished with 33, nine points better than Grand Rapids West Catholic. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett was third with 21.
Liggett had three doubles teams make it to the finals in their flights in Alan Jurcak and August Bonacci (No. 2), Jack Ninivaggi and Alex Dow (No. 3), and Jackson Benning and Davey Sekhon (No. 4).