Black Hawks Soar Again in Division 1, while Kumar Repeats with Top-Flight Title

By Scott DeCamp
Special for

October 15, 2022

HOLLAND – While Bloomfield Hills boys tennis coach Greg Burks was being interviewed late Saturday afternoon at Hope College’s Etheridge Tennis Complex, the Black Hawks’ team canopy lifted in a gust of wind and toppled onto the court.

That was about the only thing that went wrong for Bloomfield Hills this weekend. The Black Hawks used their supreme depth to run away with the MHSAA Division 1 boys tennis championship, the program’s third in six years and fourth in eight seasons – and also their first since 2018.

Bloomfield Hills capped the chilly, two-day tournament by capturing titles in five of eight flights and finishing runner-up in two others. The top-ranked Black Hawks tallied 35 points to win going away.

Northville was runner-up with 25 points, followed by Troy with 24. Novi was fourth with 17 points.

Each of the top four teams was ranked in the top four of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association poll.

“We had a lot of depth. We had a couple kids come in – a couple freshman, Jonah Chernett and Connor Shaya – and they kind of extended that lineup even further to where we were just very, very deep,” said Burks, who also guided the Black Hawks to Division 1 titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

“To be honest, everybody just worked very hard in the offseason. They knew that we were getting those couple of guys and we only graduated one from last year, so they just knew – these are the stakes, and we knew that Troy and Northville and Novi were going to be tough. Yeah, it was great.”

Bloomfield Hills settled for a Finals runner-up finish last season behind Troy. This time, championships at two of the four singles flights and three of the four doubles flights helped push the Black Hawks over the top.

Bloomfield Hills senior Daniel Stojanov repeated at No. 2 singles with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice’s Patrick Cretu. At No. 4 singles, the spunky Shaya defeated Troy’s Dhruv Gupta in the Finals match, 6-2, 6-3.

The doubles teams of Pierce Shaya-Merrick Chernett (No. 1), Michael Dillon-Ryan Rose (No. 2) and Kierth Lingam-Dominic Pascarella (No. 4) earned big points for Bloomfield Hills with flight championships.

Bloomfield Hills’ Aaron Rose was runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central’s Alec Maynard at No. 3 singles (6-2, 6-4). The Black Hawks’ Drew Davis and Toni Vasile finished second at No. 3 doubles, falling to Ann Arbor Huron’s Warren Gunnar and Hassan Hejazi in the final.

Northville junior Sachiv Kumar fires a backhand during his No. 1 singles final. Northville junior Sachiv Kumar repeated at No. 1 singles winning a championship rematch against Rochester junior Clayton Anderson, 7-6, 4-6, 6-1. Kumar defeated Anderson in last year’s title match, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5). Kumar finished 34-1 this season with his lone loss coming against Anderson during a dual meet.

It was a different Finals experience for Kumar this time around. Last year’s Division 1 Finals in Kalamazoo was moved indoors because of rain.

“The conditions – just way too cold outside, and (too) windy to play tennis, but somehow I didn’t cramp and the conditions didn’t get to me,” the even-keel Kumar said with a smile, alluding to temperatures hovering at or just below 50 degrees.

“It’s really, really nice, especially to say I won it once and I won it again – won it twice in a row.”

Stojanov knows the pressure of attempting to repeat as well.

It wasn’t easy for him Saturday, but the reward was well worth it, especially since his teammates also can call themselves state champions.

“It was great to get it done as a team. Fell short last year, so getting it done as a team was great this year,” Stojanov said.

“Down a set, I had to raise my level, I had to raise my game. I played a great player, so everything had to align for me to get the win. I want to give credit to my coaches and my teammates for cheering me on. It was great overall.”

Burks recalled how the 2018 Division 1 title team also displayed superior depth and won six of eight flights.

He considers that a “fantastic year,” but said what differentiates this group is that every single person on the team held his own and played an important role.

This Black Hawks squad is relatively young, so the future looks bright, too.

“It felt amazing because, like, I was really nervous because early in the season. I barely beat (Gupta) in the third set, but I really felt in that third set (Saturday), I knew his game. When I came here to play him today, I felt great,” said Shaya, who goes by the nickname “Cosmo.”

“It’s amazing (to win the team title) because we all just feel like champions. It was the perfect season.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Bloomfield Hills senior Daniel Stojanov sends a volley on the way to repeating at No. 2 singles. (Middle) Northville junior Sachiv Kumar fires a backhand during his No. 1 singles final. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1