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Three local tennis squads prove to be best of their divisions

By: Christian Davis | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 20, 2016

 Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day tennis celebrates June 4 after winning the Division 3 state championship. It was the program’s first since 2010. (Photo provided by Jessica Stencel)

Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day tennis celebrates June 4 after winning the Division 3 state championship. It was the program’s first since 2010. (Photo provided by Jessica Stencel)

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When it comes to tennis, it doesn’t get much better than the Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle coverage area.

Out of the four divisions crowning champions in the state finals June 3-4, three of them were local.


Division 2 in Holly and Fenton
Bloomfield Hills Marian coach Lincoln Wirgau believed he had the best squad going into the state tournament and was determined to prove it.

“When the draws came out, we sat down and looked where everyone was (seeded),” he said. “The message was simple — let’s prove it; let’s prove we’re the best in the division. This group of girls put in all the time and effort … and we wanted to walk out as the best in D-2.”

The Mustangs left little doubt, finishing with 32 points, nine ahead of second-place East Grand Rapids. It was the program’s first title since 2013 and third in the last seven years.

Wirgau credited his seniors. There were 10 of them out of 12 starting.

“All those seniors that put in four years, and to have it pay off for them, it was very special to see,” the coach said. “They were hungry and wanted to go out on top. Their dedication, determination, and their willingness to believe in each other … the senior class led the way.”

Marian won four of the eight flights, including three of the four in doubles.

Flight winners included Sophie Balardo (No. 4 singles), McKenna Landis and Regan Patterson (No. 1 doubles), Melanie Roma and Shannon Flynn (No. 2), and Christina Serra and Sophie Groves (No. 4).

“That’s what makes good teams great, when they can push each other in practice, and that’s what they did,” Wirgau said.


Division 3 in Holland
It was a loss during the regular season that taught Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day the lesson that would lead to the program’s first title since 2010.

The Yellowjackets had fallen to Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, which had won the five previous state titles.

“(After that loss), we didn’t allow ourselves to get comfortable. No matter what, these teams are good, and we were relying too much on our talent instead of really wanting to win,” coach Jessica Stencel said. “We had to show up and compete or else they are going to get you in a match, for sure.”

Country Day showed its mettle in the state final, winning the title with 32 points. Grand Rapids Christian was just one point behind, and Cranbrook finished with 30.

Stencel said the squad had girls in five of the eight flight finals, and it had to win four of those to win the overall championship.

The No. 1 doubles team of Elle Hartje and Harley Mullins clinched it for the Yellowjackets.

Other flight champions included Sasha Hartje (No. 1), Monique Karoub (No. 2) and Sadina Fadel (No. 3) in singles.

“We were so excited. We didn’t know for sure if we were going to win after a couple of upsets in the semifinals and in the finals,” Stencel said. “We had a lot of heartbreaking moments, so it kind of made it all worthwhile that we had enough points to win.

“Our girls represented our school really well.”


Division 4 at Kalamazoo College
Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart won its second straight state championship and fourth in five years, but this one was by the smallest margin of victory.

The Gazelles finished with 28 points, one ahead of Traverse City St. Francis.

Sacred Heart sent five to the flight finals and won three, with Selina Fuchs taking No. 3 singles, Abby Hilderbrand and Gretchen Lemon winning No. 2 doubles, and Tate Lehmann and Kathryn Monahan crowned at No. 3 doubles.

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