Grosse Pointe FarmsOctober 11, 2012
South tennis wins MAC Red championship; regional tournament is next
By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer
Grosse Pointe South tennis coach John Willard had two goals for his team coming into the season.
Goal No. 1 was to win the Macomb Area Conference Red Division championship, and goal No. 2 was to win regionals, punching its ticket to the state finals.
Willard can put a check mark next to the first goal, as the Blue Devils did, indeed, capture the MAC Red title. In order to turn that goal into a reality, South had to dethrone two-time defending MAC Red champs Port Huron Northern.
South finished second in the division to Northern in 2010 and 2011, and according to Willard, the Huskies were the favorite to win it for a third consecutive season, which only made it all the sweeter when the Blue Devils defeated them in a match on Sept. 17 to lay claim to its MAC Red title.
“We were hoping to beat them, but we knew we would be the underdogs,” he said. “The boys played very well. They knew the title was on the line before the match, so they seemed to elevate their game. It was very exciting for the boys. I don’t think anyone on this team right now has ever beaten them (Port Huron Northern).”
According to Willard, every player on the team contributed to South’s league title, including the No. 1 doubles teams of David Wittwer and Michael Schaller, and the No. 2 doubles team of Victor Flynn and Patrick Dietz. Nicholas Paolucci and Colden Gosselin are the No. 1 and No. 2 singles players for South, respectively.
Wittwer, Eddy Champane and Dietz are South’s three seniors, and Willard believes that the leadership they have provided has helped to contribute to the team’s success.
“David (Wittwer) has been a real leader for the team,” he said. “He’s been a leader both on and off the court. Eddy has made a very positive impact to the team since coming back from having a cast on his arm at the beginning of the season (due to a wrist injury). They’ve both played very well this season.”
Willard added that Dietz’s hard work and dedication during the offseason helped to make him a reliable doubles player.
South will have an opportunity to make a clean sweep of Willard’s goals for the season when the Blue Devils host a regional tournament Oct. 11 at Elworthy in Grosse Pointe. If they can be amongst the top two teams in the field of 11 or score 18 points, they will be headed to the state finals.
Regardless of how things may play out, Willard likes the look of his team moving forward.
“We are a pretty young team this year, so that would bode well to our success next year,” he said. “We’re only going to be losing two out of our top 12 players. The hope would again be to win the division championship and make it to the state finals.”