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 Troy Athens junior Raya VonPlagenhoef keeps her eye on the ball earlier this season. Both Athens and Troy High qualified for the Division 1 state final.

Troy Athens junior Raya VonPlagenhoef keeps her eye on the ball earlier this season. Both Athens and Troy High qualified for the Division 1 state final.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Athens, Troy High girls tennis qualify for state final

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published May 29, 2019


TROY — Troy Athens girls tennis coach Jen Yetter described how last season ended for her team as “super heartbreaking.”

At a regional tournament last year, Athens missed qualifying for the Division 1 state tournament by one point.

Yetter said it provided motivation to work hard in the offseason.

The hard work paid off, as Athens was one of three teams to qualify for the D-1 state tournament from a regional hosted by Grosse Pointe South May 16.

The other two teams to qualify from that regional were Troy High and South.

“It was amazing,” Yetter said. “It was so rewarding, and especially for my (No. 1) singles player (Agata Szewczuk), who’s worked so, so hard this season. She got off the court and she was, like, in tears. She was so happy that herself and the entire team gets to go to the state tournament.”

The D-1 final is set for May 31-June 1 at the Greater Midland Tennis Center.

Although Yetter said she is “super excited” about going, her team isn’t the only one she wants to see compete.

“For Athens, this is a big accomplishment,” Yetter said. “And then outside of looking at Athens, we have a really close relationship with Troy High. So I’m really, really looking forward to watching Troy High play. They have a great team over there, and I’m really curious to see where they’re (going to) finish in the state.”

While skill and a strong work ethic are a couple of good ways to qualify for a state final, having some fun along the way can help too.

That intangible is what Yetter considers to be a key factor for Athens’ success this season.

“That was really like my key focus going into the season, is just having a really good time, and because of that, we had really quality practices,” Yetter said. “We had fun at our practices, but at the same time, we really were thinking about a lot (of) stuff, thinking about how to improve our game. … Because they were having a great time, they really wanted to work for it.”

Although qualifying for a state final has been a yearly occurrence for Athens’ boys program in recent seasons, this is the first year the girls have qualified since 2015.

As both a coach and an Athens graduate, the program’s accomplishment is a meaningful one for Yetter.

“It was really, really special that on the girls side we finally got to qualify, and we get the respect that our team deserves, because our girls have worked really, really hard,” she said. “And being a former player, and being around the girls side for as long as I have, it was so amazing.”