Of all the great Division 1 tennis programs in the state, there were two from the city of Troy that made their mark Oct. 19-20 in the state finals in Midland.
Troy High finished tied for fourth overall with 17 points, and Troy Athens cracked the top 10, tying for ninth, with eight points.
“When you look at tennis in Oakland County as a whole, you recognize there’s a lot of talent,” Athens coach Andrew Shipp said. “I don’t know if that’s something that comes with the territory or just the work ethic. I know the tennis courts around here are always full. That’s a good thing.”
Brett Forman at No. 1 singles, Michael Faber at No. 3 and Tarun Kalyanaraman at No. 4 led the way, all each reaching the semifinal round. The Colts won at least one match in all eight flights.
Troy featured a new coach in Brian Miska, and many new faces in the lineup this season after graduating eight starters.
“My goals coming in were to win the league, the regional and finish in the top five in the state. We preached it to the team after every match,” Miska said. “We proved a lot of people wrong, so it was a pretty good season.”
The Colts won the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, going undefeated and never losing more than two matches in a dual.
Miska credited the team’s work ethic during the offseason for its successes.
“All the guys played numerous times during the week and just jelled together,” he said. “That’s what made the difference in this team.”
Red Hawks rally
Athens qualified for the final a season after missing out last season by a single point: something that drove the Red Hawks all year.
“Everybody was ecstatic when we made it. It was true excitement, a feeling of celebration that we were going,” Shipp said.
The Red Hawks made the most of it, tying for their best finish in school history, led by quarterfinal appearances from Richard Zhang and Sheevan Naik at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively.
Shipp said it was the team’s dedication that proved to be the difference.
“Something I told the guys was that this team, on a whole, worked harder in the offseason than many of the teams that I saw in the past. There were more players doing more, not just a few guys doing stuff,” he said. “It was just a great group of guys that grew close together. What was great about them is that they included the whole team. It wasn’t just about the seniors or one or two players. It was really kind of a family that grew together to accomplish a great feat.”