Cranbrook 4-Peats with Near Perfection

October 20, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

NOVI/WEST BLOOMFIELD – Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood boys tennis coach Steve Herdoiza said his team had conquered challenges all season. But Saturday’s MHSAA Finals was a different one. 

The main opponent was time, as weather forced the event to be played much longer than anticipated. 

Teams waited out a delay in the morning so the outdoor courts at Novi High School could dry, and by the time the semifinals got into full swing just before noon, more bad weather had arrived.

That forced everyone to pack up and drive to an indoor court roughly 30 minutes away, The Sports Club of West Bloomfield, to finish out the day.

The result was an event that didn’t end until just after 7:30 p.m., but the wait was well worth it for Cranbrook. 

For the fourth straight year, the Cranes captured the Lower Peninsula Division 3 title, doing so in dominating fashion by winning seven flights and earning 39 points. 

“They’ve responded that way all year,” Herdoiza said. “Whatever challenge has been put in front of them, they’ve handled it beautifully with the same approach. Obviously, (Saturday’s weather) threw some things off.”

Detroit Country Day was runner-up with 28 points, while East Grand Rapids netted 25 points to take third.

Cranbrook was led by junior Lucas Bosch, who captured the No. 1 singles title with a three-set win over rival Nikolas Gruskin of Country Day. 

It was the third victory of the season for Bosch over Gruskin, but by far the hardest to achieve. 

Gruskin won the first set, 6-3, before Bosch rallied to win the second, 6-1. 

Bosch then pulled out a 6-4 win in the third set to win his second straight individual title after he won the crown at No. 2 singles last year.

Bosch said Gruskin made adjustments from the previous two matches, and playing indoors without any elements made it more intense.

“There was a lot more running this match,” Bosch said. “Going to my backhand, he was serving it a lot better. He had out-wide serves slicing away.”

Bosch had plenty of help though.

Justin Luo (No. 2), Nolan Sherwood (No. 3) and Joe Croskey (No. 4) each backed up their No. 1 seed in their respective flights by winning titles to help Cranbrook sweep the singles portion of the event. 

Cranbrook won three of the four doubles flights, with the team of Patrick Tiwari/Sohum Acharya at No. 2 doubles, the team of Hayes Bradley/David Hermelin at No. 3 and the tandem of Geoffrey Qin/Isaiah Croskey at No. 4 doubles all finishing first. 

Tiwari/Sohum and Qin/Croskey were seeded No. 1 going into the tournament, but the title won by Bradley/Hermelin was more of a surprise since that team entered seeded No. 3. 

The only flight won by a team not named Cranbrook came at No. 1 doubles, where the East Grand Rapids pair of Ryan Poste and Kole Butterer won despite entering as the No. 3 seed. 

“Even though we won by a wide margin, there were a lot of close matches that went our way,” Herdoiza said. “I attribute that to the guys and how they handle pressure moments. They are poised, and their competitiveness was off-the-charts good.”

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood's Lucas Bosch sends back a volley during Saturday's Division 3 Finals. (Middle) Detroit Country Day's Nikolas Gruskin returns a shot, also at No. 1 singles. (Click to see more from

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.)