DCD tennis pulls together to win second state championship since 2009

By: Sue Teggart | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 26, 2011

 The Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day boys tennis team gathers with its D-3 state championship hardware after the Oct. 15 tournament. The title marked the Yellowjackets’ second in three years.

The Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day boys tennis team gathers with its D-3 state championship hardware after the Oct. 15 tournament. The title marked the Yellowjackets’ second in three years.

Photo courtesy of Pankaj Hukku

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In the past four years, the Division 3 boys tennis state title hasn’t left Oakland County.

And it’s not going anywhere for at least another year.

Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood have alternated winning the state championship since 2008. The Cranes won it last year, and Country Day kept the pattern going by winning its second title in three years Oct. 14-15.

Country Day scored 34 team points, well ahead of state runner-up St. Joseph (28 points). Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern tallied 24 points, while Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood finished fourth with 22.

“The kids did great,” DCD coach Tom Ellis said. “It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by a Country Day team.”

Despite winning by a six-point margin, the title didn’t come easy. After the first day of competition, Country Day and St. Joseph were tied atop the standings with 21 points.

“The field was really strong,” Ellis said. “It was really competitive. We were in great position after the first day. Everybody … was within a point of each other. So for (the team) to come through and do what they did was just great. We really performed in our finals matches, even the ones we lost.”

Country Day reached the finals in seven of eight flights, winning four championships, to pull away from the field.

“I knew that when we had hit the finals, we were going to be hard to beat,” Ellis said. “Forest Hills Northern couldn’t catch us. St. Joseph’s at that point couldn’t catch us, and we had a lead on Cranbrook. We knew we were in great shape.”

In the No. 3 singles final, sophomore Rishi Patel upended top-seeded Mike Kincaid from St. Joseph 6-1, 6-1. The Yellowjackets’ top three doubles teams pulled through, as well.

Senior Abhay Hukku and junior Alex Gruskin defeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern’s Bill Schaff and Brett Michaud 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles. At No. 2 doubles, junior Patrick Adams and senior Andrew Sun beat Northern’s Sam Helderop and John Kim 7-6 (6), 6-1. At No. 3 doubles, freshman Blake Burstein and junior Max Lee rallied back to defeat Northern’s Nick Zeitter and Wes Schermer 0-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Ellis was proud of his flight champions, but credited the state championship to a total team effort.

“It was really a team effort,” Ellis said. “They all supported each other and bonded together. No one thought about themself; they did it from a team standpoint. They did it for each other.”


Rice finishes state runner-up
At the D-1 finals in Midland, No. 1-ranked Ann Arbor Huron topped the field with 30 points. Birmingham Brother Rice finished state runner-up with 26 points.

The Warriors earned two flight champions in Gunnar Peery (No. 2 singles) and the No. 3 doubles team of Joey Hildebrand and George Hamaty.

“I thought it was big effort on everybody’s part all the way around,” said Rice coach Mark Walker. “We had six of the eight teams in the semifinals, which is what you need going into the second day. For the team, it was a rebuilding year. We lost eight seniors, and we had six freshmen on the team. I think it was a good experience for everybody to go up to the state finals and compete well. I thought it was a good learning experience for all the kids coming back for next season.”

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