Duo Share D2 Title, Duo Finishes Perfect Run

October 17, 2015

By Keith Dunlap

Special for Second Half

GRAND BLANC – It might have seemed like a bold proclamation when the boys tennis season started in August, but Portage Central sophomore Bill Duo had a lofty expectation for what he wanted his season to be like. 

“I think I was expecting to not drop a set,” Duo said. “If it happened, it happened. But I wasn’t expecting to drop a set. I was playing well.”

Duo’s expectation turned into reality, as he finished off the season by achieving his ambition on the final day of the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final on Saturday. 

Duo capped off his perfect season by not losing a set all year, with the final victory being a 6-4, 6-3 win over Connor Genschaw of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.

It was the third time this season that Duo defeated Genschaw, this time in a match that started outdoors at Holly High School but was suspended and moved indoors to Genesys Athletic Club when sleet arrived in the middle of the first set. 

Duo also played in the No. 1 singles championship match in 2014, but finished runner-up.

“The first time is definitely new territory,” Duo said. “The second time it’s like ‘yeah, I remember this.’ It was different places, but you kind of have to learn from that experience. I had to come out here and play. He played a great match. I was excited. I was pumped for the finals.” 

While Duo was the one who celebrated the individual title at the expense of Genschaw, both got to celebrate team success.

Portage Central and Forest Hills Central shared the team MHSAA title with 30 points apiece, three points ahead of third-place Midland Dow. 

Birmingham Groves, Birmingham Seaholm and Detroit U-D Jesuit all shared fourth place with 17 points.

Forest Hills Central also was champion in 2014, while Portage Central’s title was its first since 2001. 

A big storyline of the tournament was weather, which wreaked a lot of havoc on both days of the event.

Participants had to pack up right in the middle of the action both days and head to Genesys Athletic Club, where they had to warm up again and refocus. 

Granted, at the end people might not have minded the move indoors with everyone bundled up in sweatshirts, hats and blankets as they watched the action.

“You don’t (prepare for it),” Portage Central co-coach Erik Anderson said. “You really don’t. We stay focused and talk about getting our mindset. It doesn’t matter where we play; it’s how we play. Just focus on the ball and not the surroundings. It’s everything inside the lines. It doesn’t matter about the fans, spectators or environment. We prefer to play outdoors because there is more elements to the game, but if you come indoors it’s basically skill vs. skill.” 

At No. 2 singles, Michael Szabo of Midland Dow defeated Ben Orwin of Portage Central in another match that was in progress outside before being moved indoors, as was the No. 1 doubles match between Portage Central’s Kento Hirakawa and Cameron Raedy and Detroit U-D Jesuit’s tandem of Louis Wyre and Joey Wilson.

That might have been the most entertaining match of the day, with Hirakawa and Raedy finally prevailing, 6-4, 4-6 and 7-5. 

Lucas Guy of Portage Central took the title at No. 3 singles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over top-seeded Tyler Conrad of Midland Dow, while Jacob Wiltjer of Forest Hills Central topped Aditya Middha of Midand Dow at No. 4 singles, 6-2, 6-3.

The Forest Hills Central team of Justin James and Aidan Rynbrandt won the title at No. 2 doubles with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over J.J. Kirkman and Noah Nichols of Midland Dow, while Tim Spurlin and Jack Ziegler of Forest Hills Central won the No. 3 doubles crown with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 win over Brian McHale and Josh Belfer of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern.

Finally, Peyton Herbert and Mike Battiste of Forest Hills Central won the No. 4 doubles title with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Andrew Dicks and Scott Anthony of Forest Hills Northern.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Portage Central and Forest Hills Central players pose together with the MHSAA championship trophy. (Middle) Portage Central's Bill Duo prepares to serve during his No. 1 singles final. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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

By Jerry DeRoche
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)