Utica High’s Addie Guitar prepares to serve May 1 in a match against Utica Ford II on the road. The Chieftains beat the Falcons to improve to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division.

Utica High’s Addie Guitar prepares to serve May 1 in a match against Utica Ford II on the road. The Chieftains beat the Falcons to improve to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Utica High tennis embracing family-first mentality

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 6, 2019

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UTICA — After an undefeated campaign in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division last season, the Utica High girls tennis team was ready for new challenges.

This season, the Chieftains moved up a division to the MAC Blue and are still seeing success.

At press time, the Chieftains were 4-0 in the Blue and 6-1 overall.

The winning is of little surprise to coach Annmarie Michol, now in her fourth season at the helm of Utica.

One of the reasons why the Chieftains have been so good this season is their dedication in the offseason. Michol said a lot of the girls are multisport athletes, so she challenged them to take at least one day per week during the summer to work on their game.

The idea behind this is to keep the players in tennis shape so they don’t have to dedicate the first few weeks of the season to getting back into a tennis mindset.

“Players are already used to warming up and working on different strokes,” Michol said. “I wasn’t having to take a week and a half to get everybody back in shape again. Everybody was in shape and ready to go once the season started.”

Through the commitment of working in the offseason, the team has grown close. Michol estimated that her team is made up of 90% seniors who have all grown up together. That unity off the court helps the team by leaps and bounds on it.

Michol said that player-to-player support has won her team some matches this season. Win or lose, no one is quick to leave after their match ends. Everyone wants to stay and cheer on their teammates.

“They’re all really good friends, and it’s just a really strong team in terms of unity,” Michol said. “It’s a family.”

With regionals less than two weeks away, the Chieftains know there are still plenty of challenges that lie ahead.

Utica will play a Division 1 regional hosted by rival Utica Eisenhower, the No. 8 team in the state. Also participating in that regional is Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, which is the only team to beat Utica this season, along with MAC Red teams Port Huron Northern and Romeo High.

In preparation for the regional tournament, Michol has been urging her team to improve its mental approach to the game. The Chieftains have played and beaten some high-level competition, which has given them loads of confidence.

Come playoff time, the hope is that they have the mental edge over their opponents. Michol wants her seniors to see their hard work pay off.

“They definitely know what they need to do in order to get to that level,” the coach said. “They’ve bought into the program, so I know that they’re going to go and they’re going to play. They’re not going to give up.”

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