Bloomfield Hills Returns to Top of D1

October 21, 2017

By Chris Stevens
Special for Second Half

MIDLAND All season long, the Bloomfield Hills Black Hawks have had a target on their collective backs as the state’s top-ranked tennis team in Division 1.

They handled the pressure well during the fall’s regular season, but there was one big hurdle left to clear at this weekend’s MHSAA Finals at the Greater Midland Tennis Center.

Black Hawks coach Greg Burks kept the message to his team simple and clear: Don’t focus on the rankings; do your best and everything will take care of itself.

And that’s exactly what happened Saturday, as the Black Hawks won the school’s second Lower Peninsula Division 1 title in the past three years, edging Troy 30-28 in the two-day tournament. Ann Arbor Huron placed third with 22 points, Birmingham Brother Rice had 21 points and Ann Arbor Pioneer had 19 to round out the top-five scoring.

The Black Hawks, who finished second in LPD1 a year ago and tied for the title two years ago, started the season ranked No. 1 and finished the season that way, as well.

“I tried to not have the guys look at (the rankings) because there is a target on your back and you have to play completely different,” Burks said. “When you play somebody, they don’t have anything to lose. … It makes it a little tougher because they come out swinging.

“(My team) did a very good job of just working to get better.”

Burks said his team was motivated after falling short a year ago at the Finals.

“Everybody worked extremely hard in the offseason,” he said. “Every practice was intense and had a lot of energy. All the kids wanted it, and it showed. They worked really hard. I give my guys all the credit. They played unreal.”

Bloomfield Hills won fight titles at No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles. The No. 2 doubles team of Vik Chakrabortty and Chaz Blamo, seeded second in the flight, locked up the team title with a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 win over top-seeded Niko Mamatas and Riley McNulty of Birmingham Brother Rice.

When that long match ended, Bloomfield Hills team members poured onto the court to celebrate.

Meanwhile, at No. 3 singles, Constantin Hemmrich of Bloomfield Hills posted a 6-0, 6-0 win over Clarkston’s Jacob Burkett in the finals. At No. 1 doubles, Cade Burman and Sebastian Burman secured another title for the Black Hawks with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory against Sam Schwartz and Jack Brockhaus of Brother Rice.

At No. 1 singles, Troy senior Steve Forman was dominant as he captured a second straight championship. He lost only five games the entire tournament and did not lose a set.

Forman, who’s headed to the University of Michigan to play his college tennis, defeated Andrew Zhang of Bloomfield Hills 6-1, 6-1 in the finals. Both are hard-hitting left-handers.

“I really served well and hit my spots. That’s really what I was trying to do … and do what I could in (returning the ball),” Forman said of his keys to victory.

Even though he was defending his title, Forman said that was not a huge motivating factor for him. He wrapped up his senior season with a 13-0 record.

“It’s a new year and new people,” he said. “I definitely felt like I was the top player and I wanted to go out and win.”

Forman, who lost in the semifinals as a sophomore, enjoyed the success he had in high school.

“I really played my best tennis in high school,” Forman said. “I had some tough matches, but overall, I played well in a lot of big matches. I’m satisfied with what I was able to do here.”

At No. 2 singles, Troy’s Brennan Cimpeanu swept Ann Arbor Huron’s Kobie Mueller 7-6, 7-6 in their championship match. At No. 4 singles, Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Stanley Rhodes recorded a 7-6, 3-6, 6-0 win over Northville’s Samir Rajani, who was the flight’s top seed. Rhodes was seeded second.

At No. 3 doubles, Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Connor Streeter and Brendan Karsch swept Bloomfield Hills’ Adrian Wilen and Chris Sauer, 6-0, 6-4. Finally, at No. 4 doubles, Troy’s Marvin Jiang and Charlie Peng won in convincing fashion, topping T.J. Bai and Nick Grosh of Ann Arbor Huron, 6-2, 6-1.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills players rush the court to celebrate their Division 1 championship. (Middle) Troy's Steve Forman readies for a volley during his No. 1 singles match. (Top photo from; middle photo by Chris Stevens.)

West Iron Makes Every Point Count Winning Finals Title by Slimmest of Margins

By Jerry DeRoche
Special for

May 30, 2024

KINGSFORD – After a two-year absence, the West Iron County Wykons returned to the top of Division 2 boys tennis in the Upper Peninsula on Wednesday with their razor-thin victory over host Iron Mountain and 2023 champion Ishpeming at Kingsford High School.

With two flight championships and four runner-up finishes, West Iron County recorded 14 points compared to 13 for Iron Mountain and 12 for Ishpeming.

Junior No. 2 singles player Zander Birmingham and the No. 3 doubles duo of senior Ethan Isaacson and junior Keenan Dobson-Donati led the Wykons to their first team championship since 2021.

Second-year coach Jim Anderson was effusive in his praise for his squad.

“I’m thrilled beyond words,” Anderson said. “They put in a lot of work this season and had a ton of commitment, and that showed on the court today. They played with a ton of heart and a lot of grit, and they dug deep for the win.”

Birmingham rolled to his second U.P. championship after having won the title at No. 4 singles in 2023, losing just two games in his two matches on Wednesday, both to Munising’s Levi Westcomb in the final.

“To move up from (No. 4) singles to (No.2) singles and still have the same success means a lot to me,” Birmingham said. “I’m very, very excited and just proud of myself in general.”

At No. 3 doubles, Issacson and Dobson-Donati earned a bye into the second round, then won by forfeit in the semifinals before fighting off Iron Mountain’s Ben Truong and Carter Kassin 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

“Two of the hardest-working kids on the court,” Anderson said of his No. 3 doubles pairing. “Ethan’s a senior and one of the leaders on the team this year, and Keenan’s been moving up the ranks. They had a goal in mind today, and they achieved it.”

In the top flights, Munising’s Carson Kienitz recorded his third U.P. title – his first in singles – by defeating West Iron County’s Caleb Strom 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1, while Iron Mountain’s brother tandem of Reece and Oskar Kangas knocked off Hunter Smith and Caden Luoma 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.

Iron Mountain senior Reece Kangas lines up a forehand shot during the No. 1 doubles championship decider.Kienitz, a two-time U.P champion at No. 1 doubles, scuffled a bit early in his match against Strom but rolled to the victory once he got going.

“Pretty much every match that I’ve played I start out really slow and I lose the first couple of games,” the 6-foot-4 junior said. “But I start to learn my opponent and I get in my groove, and I’m able to climb back up and finish it.”

Kienitz did so Wednesday against Strom, who came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and had defeated Kienitz in their previous two matches.

“I knew he hits it really hard, and he’s a good player,” Kienitz said of Strom. “But instead of playing his game and hitting the ball back hard and making mistakes, I was just playing my game and hitting to his backhand and pushing the net.”

In the top doubles flight, the Kangas brothers also started slowly in the final but won 13 of the final 18 games to record their first U.P. title in their only attempt.

Reece said he had to convince his 6-foot-6 brother Oskar, an all-U.P. Dream Team selection in basketball, to take up tennis this season.

“I definitely had to talk him into it,” said Reece, who played singles his previous seasons. “He was thinking of doing some other sports and I told him, ‘If you and me play doubles this year, it will be a year to remember, especially for me in my senior year.”

To close out their “year to remember,” the Kangas brothers needed to gain some revenge on Smith and Luoma, who had won the previous matchup in the Mid-Peninsula Conference championship.

“We knew it would be tough, they are a quick team and they retrieve a lot, so it’s hard to score on them,” Oskar said of the Ishpeming pair. “But we had a sense of urgency today. It was our last (match) no matter what, so we wanted to go out with a big win.”

The Mountaineers posted two other flight championships. Freshman Braden Kassin outlasted West Iron County’s Dominick Brunswick 7-6, 7-6 at No. 3 singles, and freshman Malakai Broersma fought back to upend West Iron’s James White 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.

Ishpeming won the other two flights. Hayden Hares and Tramon Gauthier knocked off Iron Mountain’s Geno Schinderle and Dylan Lindgren 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles, while Adam Maki and Ethan Corp topped West Iron’s Jackson Secord and Matthew Swenski 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 doubles.

PHOTOS (Top) Munising's Carson Kienitz returns a serve during the No. 1 singles championship match at the MHSAA U.P. Division 2 Final on Wednesday in Kingsford. (Middle) Iron Mountain senior Reece Kangas lines up a forehand shot during the No. 1 doubles championship decider. (Photos by Sean Chase.)