Cranbrook Kingswood girls tennis took state runner-up June 1 at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state championship.

Cranbrook Kingswood girls tennis took state runner-up June 1 at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state championship.

Photo provided by Cranbrook Kingswood Athletics

Cranbrook tennis takes runner-up at states

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 17, 2024


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — When you think of Division 3 girls tennis in Michigan, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Detroit Country Day are practically the poster children for the state finals stage, and they seem to be interchangeable each year.

Since 2010, Cranbrook has held seven state titles, including back-to-back titles heading into this year, and four state runner-up spots, while Country Day has countered with six titles of their own and three runner-up finishes.

Both schools provide so much to the sport of tennis in Oakland County, and on June 1 at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state championship at Kalamazoo College, Cranbrook’s three-peat would be spoiled by Country Day as Cranbrook took runner-up four points behind first-place Country Day.

“There were some great battles,” Cranbrook head coach Grant Asher said. “I was really proud of the girls with the way they competed and conducted themselves sportsmanship-wise through the entire season, but particularly states as well.”

The greatest battles for Cranbrook took place in the No. 3 and 4 doubles flights as Cranbrook’s doubles groups were looking to avenge a 2023 runner-up finish in their respective flights.

Cranbrook senior Sanvi Upadhyayula and junior Madeline Day cruised through flight 3 to earn a state championship, while juniors Michelle Chen and Jessica Hall dominated flight 4 to add onto Cranbrook’s impressive doubles showing.

Both doubles groups were also crowned regional champions this year and entered the state tournament as No. 1 seeds, but Asher said it was exciting to see them reach their goal.

“I was super happy for Jessica (Hall) and Michelle (Chen),” Asher said. “I think they lost in the finals last year, and I think that’s a pretty common theme, where you lose in the finals or semis the year before and you realize how close you are. You then have the urgency to really work hard in the practices in the offseason, and I think Jessica and Michelle did that, along with Sanvi (Upadhyayula) and Madeline (Day) in 3 doubles, who also lost in the finals last year. I was super happy for those girls to close it out, because it doesn’t always happen that way.”

The doubles flight No. 2 team of senior Grace Zhang and junior Sophia Kouza, who were also regional champions and state champions last year, capped off the state champion list for Cranbrook, while doubles flight No. 1, consisting of seniors Daryn Krause and Kayli Lala, both team captains and a doubles group for four years, reached the state semifinals.

On the singles side, senior captain Sienna Ilitch (singles 1), a state champion last year in singles 3, reached the top eight alongside junior Ava Clogg (singles 2), a 2022 doubles champion.

Junior Chiarra Martella (singles 3), a key returner next year for Cranbrook and a regional champion, reached the semifinals, while senior Olivia Zhang (singles 4), a state champion last year in singles flight No. 4, ended her high school career on a high note with a state finals runner-up finish. Zhang was also a regional champion.

Enough can’t be said about a senior class with four regional championships, two state championships, and a slew of multi-state winning players with Ilitch (2x individual state champion), Olivia Zhang (2x individual state champion), Krause and Lala (2022 doubles champions), and Grace Zhang (3x doubles champion).

This group made an immediate impact as freshmen, leading Cranbrook to a state runner-up finish and coming back stronger than ever to win back-to-back titles the next two seasons. It doesn’t get much better than two state titles and two runner-up titles, and Asher said their impact has been immeasurable.

“They came in four years ago and really propelled our program,” Asher said. “They kind of laid the foundation and the culture for Cranbrook tennis. They’re going to be sorely missed.”

Cranbrook will have a talented veteran core eager to reach the top once more and leave their own mark on the school.

Asher said the 2024 senior class etched their name into the program’s history not only because of their play on the court, but the impact they made on their teammates.

“I think the seniors, particularly the captains, really held people accountable for what the expectations are for Cranbrook tennis,” Asher said. “We’ve been trying to change that culture to playing more in the offseason and playing more competitions so that they can handle the pressure better. I just think those guys held the accountability day-to-day, which is where you need that consistency day-to-day. The most important thing for me is that they integrate the freshman and the younger people and make them feel a part of the team with friendships and circles they’re going to have for the rest of their life. The seniors did a great job of that.”