Dow Completes Perfect Season with Another Dominating Finals Performance

By Steve Vedder
Special for

October 21, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS – Austin King would have been hard-pressed four months ago to come up with a single word which would aptly describe his coming junior season.

But now the Midland Dow No. 1 singles player has one.


King finished off a perfect season by defeating Drew Hackney of Muskegon Mona Shores 6-2, 6-3, at Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 2 Boys Tennis Finals at the Grand Rapids Racquet and Fitness Club. The win capped a stunning performance by Midland Dow that included sweeping all four singles flights en route to 29 total points, five better than runner-up Birmingham Seaholm.

King, who boosted his career record to 99-12 over three seasons, never lost a single set in any of his 37 wins this fall. The championship erases some of the frustration from a year ago when King lost in the semifinals to finish 34-5.

"I definitely put the work in over the summer, so I knew it was possible," King said. "Winning state has always been a dream of mine."

The team title by unbeaten Midland Dow, ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, was the eighth in 17 seasons and second straight for coach Terry Schwartzkopf. In all, Dow had five flights reach championship matches, a feat which didn't necessarily come as a surprise. Dow has seven seniors and all but three players back from the 2022 Division 2 champion.

Mattawan was third this weekend with 22 points, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern was fourth with 19 and Birmingham Groves was fifth with 18.

While Schwartzkopf said every team is different, the current club was marked by a terrific senior class.

"I know we have kids who have as good of records as we've had, but I knew I could count on these guys, no matter the situation," he said.

As for King, Schwartzkopf said it's pure drive which makes him successful.

"He's got the experience, the drive, the determination," Schwartzkopf said. "When he was in middle school, he came up to me and said (his teammates) would bring a state title to Dow."

Joining King as flight champs were teammates Aaron Li at No. 2 singles, Logan Yu at third singles and Nimai Patel at No. 4. Li defeated Mason Crosby of South Lyon East 6-4, 6-1, while Yu downed Gerritt Cheng of Mattawan 7-6, 6-1, and Patel knocked off Dylan Hodgman of Mattawan 6-4, 6-1.

Birmingham Seaholm tennisIn doubles, Dow had one duo make the finals. But Mattawan's Andrew Williams and Tanner Segraves defeated Dow's Roofy Elsaadamy and Vishagan Karthikeyan 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the No. 1 flight.

While Schwartzkopf praised his singles teams, it was the strength of the doubles flights which helped the Chargers finish on top. Dow's third and fourth doubles teams made the quarterfinals and semifinals.

"We didn't anticipate the doubles teams being as strong as they were," he said. "The singles flights didn't surprise me that much because we were all back in singles. But every team is special for different reasons. You have your ups and your falls, but we have a lot of senior leadership. They've been absolutely incredible and one of the coolest things I've experienced."

William Knoester and Alex Chen of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central defeated Carson Wright and Sean Joyce of Seaholm 6-3, 6-3, to win the No. 2 doubles flight.

In the third doubles flight, Benji Cook and Nathan Lucken of Groves defeated Mohan Badhwar and Sammy Abdo of Seaholm 6-3, 6-3, in the final.

At No 4 doubles, Leo Kim and Finlay Sparby of Seaholm defeated Austin Rowland and Owen Godley of Forest Hills Central 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, in the final.

King said he wasn't put off by the pressure of being unbeaten as the season progressed.

"I like the pressure. As a No. 1 singles player, you want to be the best and to do that you have to beat the best," he said. "We knew there was a target on our back as a team, but we put in a lot of work over the summer."

Yu won his flight despite severe leg cramps during his second set. After winning the first 7-6, he took a 3-0 lead in the second set. But he was sidelined as doctors tried to get him ready to finish off the title.

"It was really tough," he said. "I won 7-6, but that was as tough as it could be. Garrett played well and I started to cramp up, but then I started to feel better."

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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