Lutheran Northwest’s McNalley crowned D-4 individual state champion

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 10, 2019

 Rochester HIlls Lutheran Northwest freshman Moorea McNalley readies a serve June 1 in the Division 4 state final at Kalamazoo College. McNalley topped Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Melanie Zampardo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) to capture the state title.

Rochester HIlls Lutheran Northwest freshman Moorea McNalley readies a serve June 1 in the Division 4 state final at Kalamazoo College. McNalley topped Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Melanie Zampardo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) to capture the state title.

Photo by Marvin Hall

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Moorea McNalley is a state champion.

Ranked No. 8 in the state by tennisrecruiting.com, McNalley captured the Division 4 individual state title June 1 at Kalamazoo College.

The Shelby Township resident beat Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Melanie Zampardo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) in the final.  

With the win, McNalley wrapped up her freshman campaign with the Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest/Clarkston Everest Collegiate co-op team, adding All-Catholic and All-Academic honors along the way.

She becomes the first player in program history to win a state title.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” McNalley said. “Especially because my whole team was there and everybody was there to see us. Our whole team did well, so that was a good thing as well.”

McNalley finished the season at 16-2 overall, with both of her losses coming to Zampardo earlier in the season during a dual meet and again at regionals.

During those losses, McNalley noticed a trend in her game that she would use to her advantage.

“When I played her last time, I kept getting mad at myself when I started losing,” McNalley said. “This time I was trying to not get mad at myself and just kept playing. Since it was my last match of the season, I tried to give it everything I had.”

So when McNalley found herself down 2-5 to Zampardo in the third set, just four points away from losing the match, she didn’t turn it in. Instead, she tied the set at 6-6 and went on to win the tiebreaker.

Clarkston Everest coach Lee Keating said the ability to display mental toughness and thrive in pressure situations speaks volumes of the freshman.

“The biggest thing was settling down,” Keating said. “In the first set, Moorea lost 2-6 and it kind of looked like it might be the same thing again. It’s always about managing your emotions and playing your game, and that made the difference. She started to settle down, she had calls going her way, and I think things started to look a lot better for her.”

As for the rest of the No. 1 singles flight, McNalley breezed by Traverse City St. Francis’ Jillian Sodini 6-2, 6-1 and Royal Oak Shrine’s Reilly Cannaday 6-2, 6-0 after a first-round bye. McNalley then made quick work of another familiar opponent in the semifinals, beating Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart’s Elizabeth Etterbeek 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinal.

“You don’t need to tell her she needs to work hard,” Keating said about McNalley. “She already knows she’s got to work hard, and she knows what she has to do.”

With the high school season now over, McNalley turns her attention to the United States Tennis Association. At press time, McNalley was set to compete in the USTA/Southeast Michigan District 2019 Muthig Junior Qualifier June 7-10 at Plymouth Canton Educational Park. Should she earn enough points in that tournament, McNalley will qualify for the USTA Midwest Level 1 Closed Championships June 22-27 in Indianapolis.

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