Country Day Claims 7 Flights, Team Trophy

October 18, 2014

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

GRAND BLANC — Doubles competitors aren't viewed as second-class tennis players at Detroit Country Day.

While there is more individual glory in playing singles, some of the Yellowjackets' best doubles players are perfectly content to help the team by staying put.

"You don't fix something that's not broken," senior Blake Burstein said. 

Respect for their roles on the team is reflected in the fact that the team's three captains are doubles players Burstein, Rishabh Nayak and D.J. Bailey.

When Country Day celebrated its fourth consecutive MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 title Saturday at Genesys Athletic Club, Burstein and Nayak were the only players who were part of each of the previous three championship teams.

Burstein has won his flight all four years, while Nayak has done so the last three years after reaching the No. 4 doubles final as a freshman. Burstein repeated at No. 1 doubles with new partner Damian Runkle. He won at No. 3 doubles his first two years.

"I love doubles," Burstein said. "I do singles outside of school for USTA. I feel like I can contribute to the team the most in the doubles lineup. Our singles lineup is so deep there wouldn't be a necessity for me to hop in there. They're taking care of business just fine."

Burstein and Nayak played together only one year, combining to win No. 3 doubles as sophomores.

"Blake is always a guy to take charge," Nayak recalled from their year together. "He'd always be focused and pump you up.”

Nayak and Adam Junn won the No. 2 doubles title, as Country Day won by a 39-32 margin over Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, which won the 2010 Division 3 title before Country Day began its current run.

"When I first came in as a freshman, I had no idea what to expect," Nayak said. "I just wanted to make the tennis team and play tennis. After a while, hanging out with the team, I realized we could achieve state championships if we worked hard. That's what we've been doing the last four years."

The finals nearly turned into a dual meet between Country Day and Cranbrook-Kingswood. The only intruder was East Grand Rapids' Max Condon, who lost 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 4 singles final to Country Day's Michael Khaghany.

The top two contenders were tied 23-23 after Friday's action. Country Day took a 31-30 edge into the finals, then won six of the seven head-to-head matchups with Cranbrook-Kingswood, as well as No. 4 singles.

"Sometimes it gets heated; other times it gets respectful," Country Day coach Tom Ellis said of the rivalry with the Cranes. "It's two schools rich in tennis tradition, and they go at it."

No team has ever had a perfect score of 40 points at an MHSAA Final. Country Day has finished just one point short each of the last three years. The only other school to score 39 points is Ann Arbor Pioneer, which did it in Division 1 in 2002 and 2005.

During its four-year championship run, Country Day has won 25 of 32 flights and been the runner-up in six others. Only one flight failed to reach the finals, in 2011 when No. 2 singles lost in the quarterfinals.

Country Day's only loss in the finals Saturday came when Cranbrook-Kingswood's Alex Hubers and Steven Meng took a 1-6, 6-5, 6-3 decision over Country Day's Bailey and Andrew Joslyn. It was the only three-set match in the finals.

"We're rivals in every sport," Burstein said. "It's always been real close competition. We've won every time we've played against them, but it's always a toss-up. We never go into the match thinking we're going to beat Cranbrook. It's always that we have to play our best and if we do, we think we should win. But it's not always a given."

Country Day junior Noah Karoub won the No. 1 singles title with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Cranbrook-Kingswood freshman Benji Jacobson.

Karoub trailed 5-2 in the first set before charging back.

"I just knew it was too important to give up right there," Karoub said. "I was never going to stop fighting. I had to figure out what I was doing wrong and change things. As the match goes on, I get a better feeling for his game and what I should be hitting. I start getting a better rhythm."

Karoub was the No. 2 singles champion last year and wasn't even in the lineup as a freshman, playing the season as a reserve.

"It really makes me feel like a bigger part of the team that I helped win the state final," Karoub said. "It was still fun, though (in 2012). I love everyone on the team."

Jacobson had Karoub on the move throughout the match, but unforced errors began to mount late in the first set. 

"He changed his game plan up three times in the first set," Jacobson said. "The first two times, I was all over him. He played amazing. He got to every ball. It eventually adds up and you get frustrated. He just gets every ball back."

At No. 2 singles, Country Day's Davis Wong beat Cranbrook-Kingswood's Marc Sable 6-1, 6-4. 

Jakob Gahn of Country Day beat Michael Bian of Cranbrook-Kingswood 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

Burstein and Runkle won 6-2, 6-0 over Chase Ghesquiere and Matthew Gerard of Cranbrook-Kingswood at No. 1 doubles. 

Nayak and Junn won No. 2 doubles by a 6-4, 6-3 score over Cranbrook-Kingswood's Nolan Trepeck and Joseph Cavataio.

At No. 4 doubles, Anand Prabhu and Jack Mettler of Country Day beat Colin Petzold and Brandon Kerr of Cranbrook-Kingswood 6-4, 6-4. 

It was the 15th MHSAA championship won by Country Day. Next year, the Yellowjackets will try to match the five-year run of their 1996-2000 teams.

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) D.J. Bailey (right) follows through on a return for Detroit Country Day during the No. 3 doubles championship match. (Middle) Country Day's No. 1 singles Noah Karoub volleys on the way to winning the individual title at his flight. (Below) Cranbrook-Kingswood's Benji Jacobson serves during his match with Karoub. (Click to see more from

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