Birmingham Seaholm junior Jordyn Lusky reaches out to make a play in a match at Cranbrook High School this year.

Birmingham Seaholm junior Jordyn Lusky reaches out to make a play in a match at Cranbrook High School this year.

Photo provided by Jordyn Lusky.

Seaholm tennis proves it's here to stay with runner-up finish at states

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 9, 2024


BIRMINGHAM — Birmingham Seaholm girls tennis continues to be a perennial threat in the race for the Division 2 state title, and there’s no signs of slowing down.

After capturing the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state championship last year for the fifth time since 2010, which also included four state runner-up finishes, Seaholm, led by head coach Casey Cullen, was facing the loss of a solid core of its title-winning team.

It was up to the juniors and seniors to pick up right where the previous class left off, and Seaholm didn’t skip a beat.

Seaholm may have finished runner-up in the MHSAA Division 2 state finals June 1 at Byron Center West Sports Complex, but not without bringing back a pair of individual state titles to add to its already impressive trophy case.

Both state champions on different doubles flights in 2023, junior Jordyn Lusky and sophomore Lucy Jen teamed up to dominate the doubles flight No. 3 bracket, failing to drop a single set en route to their championship win.

It can be difficult to match someone’s energy or merge your play styles, especially in your first year together, but Lusky said she and Jen were the perfect match.

“I’ve always felt that me and Lucy play similar anyways,” Lusky said. “One of the things that I love in a doubles team is just energy and loudness, and that’s one thing (coach) Casey (Cullen) tries to instill a lot. I feel like when we both get loud, we have energy and we’re bouncing, we play really well together. Over the season, our communication as a partnership grew and just made us a stronger team.”

Lusky was a state champion in doubles flight No. 3 with 2023 graduate Sydney Fong, while Jen partnered with now-senior Stella North to win doubles flight No. 4.

Lusky said the passion and fire of Lusky and Jen were eerily similar to how Fong carried herself as a veteran leader, and Lusky credits her for laying the groundwork.

“When I was thrown into 3 doubles with Sydney, I was ecstatic, because she was someone I wanted to build myself off of this year being the upperclassmen in my partnership,” Lusky said. “She’s a lot of who I learned the bouncing, the loudness, and just staying positive from. I think a lot of that helped with my season.”

Jen had to put in a little bit of overtime after Lusky suffered a broken left wrist in April, forcing her to play with a cast up until a week before states.

Lusky said she was able to improve her serve and formulate a backhand slice that became lethal on the court along with an improved drop shot.

The duo fought through the adversity together, and Lusky said she feels she’s stronger because of it.

“It was a lot of me being really physical with my feet and moving around to hit my forehand,” Lusky said. “Lucy was also an amazing partner in that case because she would get to balls that would be going to my backhand. In that case, she helped a lot.”

In doubles flight No. 4, it was the underclassmen flexing their muscles for the Maples as sophomore Anna Olekszyk and freshman Katie Joyce were crowned state champions as the No. 1 seeds in the bracket.

Seaholm graduated three starters in its doubles flights last year, and Olekszyk, Joyce and freshman Sophia Arndt (2 doubles) stepped up to fill the void.

“It was a pretty young group, but you wouldn’t know that because a lot of the younger girls had to step into pretty demanding roles,” senior Katie Slazinski said. “They all really took it in stride and did what was asked of them. They never complained, and they just put in the work, and I think that’s really promising for the future. They all have so much potential and are going to be very strong up the road.”

Slazinski has been an anchor for Seaholm doubles as a state champion and two-time state runner-up, which included her final curtain call this year as Slazinski and senior Jenna Ting, who were state champions together in 2023, solidified a well-established high school career for both with another state runner-up.

Both four-year varsity players, Slazinski and Ting have been vital to all the success Seaholm has collected throughout their tenure, but Slazinski said she couldn’t have done it without Ting.

“We’ve definitely gotten close, and our families have gotten close,” Slazinski said. “She’s definitely someone I can rely on, and she’s a comfort for me both on and off the court. I’m very glad we’ve been able to be partners, because we’ve been through the whole process together.”

Other state finals performers were sophomore Jada Josifovski, a state runner-up in singles flight No. 3 last year, continuing her success with a nice showing in singles flight No. 2 (top-4), and seniors Stella North (2 doubles) and Courtney Marcum (1 singles), both state champions last year, taking part on the Division 2 stage one last time.

Seaholm will face the loss of another strong senior class, but there’s no doubt in any of the Maples’ minds that the squad will be contending for a state championship again in 2025.

History has a way of repeating itself, and three of the last four times Seaholm finished runner-up at states they went on to become champions the next year.

With a young core led by Josifovski, Arndt, Olekszyk, Joyce, Jen, Lusky, freshman Cate French and sophomore Kate Crowley all returning, Seaholm will be retooled and ready to go.

“I saw what our captains did and our seniors, and it was inspiring how they would always try to build us up,” Lusky said. “I want to do something similar to that and make sure the underclassmen and everyone on the team feels welcomed and not scared.”