The highlight of Jonathan Gurnee's tennis season, without question, was helping Midland Dow to a third-straight MHSAA Division 2 championship.
But setting the state record for career singles wins was a close second.
Playing the No. 2 singles slot in Dow’s lineup, Gurnee tied another state record with 41 victories on the way to winning the Division 2 championship at his flight. He finished his final high school season with 141 wins, topping the previous leaders by 15.
Gurnee found out at the end of his junior season how many wins he needed to break the record. By midway through this fall, his teammates were asking regularly how many more it would take.
“It was nice because I could tell the team cared. But it’s just another record to go down for Dow High,” Gurnee said. “The whole thing was really the team, I think. I just enjoyed the team record. I did win individually. But really, over everything, (the team Finals win) was the greatest accomplishment.”
Gurnee played No. 4 singles his first two seasons of high school before moving to No. 3 as a junior and No. 2 this fall. He also won an MHSAA championship at No. 4 as a sophomore, while finishing runner-up in his flights the other two seasons. He was 32-6 as a freshman, followed by 36-2, 32-2 and then 41-1 this season for a career record of 141-11.
Gurnee credited Dow coach Terry Schwartzkopf for not only scheduling a full load over the last four years, but also a strong group of opponents. Dow regularly plays many of the state’s elite.
And Gurnee’s improvements on the court came parallel to steps he was taking within the structure of the team. He went from talking mostly to classmate Santi Guerra the first season to being named co-captain with Guerra this fall.
“I started as a freshman, and I was pretty quiet on the team. My brother (JP) was on the team as a junior, and he led the path for me,” Jonathan Gurnee said. “As the years progressed, I became more open to everybody, more into the positive camaraderie, and my junior and senior years I started leading the team in conditioning.
“It was an evolution, but probably a maturing thing too. I got some great leadership opportunities."
That showed through at the start of this season when Gurnee challenged for the No. 1 singles spot.
An elite and deep team like Dow generally has a few players who could occupy No. 1 singles for many teams. Gurnee challenged for Dow’s top position and lost a tight match to junior John Templeman. Because the score was so close, Gurnee could’ve asked for a rematch. He did not, feeling Templeman at No. 1 was the best situation for all involved.
And Gurnee still made the Michigan Interscholastic Tennis Coaches Association all-state team, one of three Dow singles players picked for the top 10 spots in Division 2.
"Jonathan is the All-American kid who fought for the success of his team. Along the way, he broke a few records," Dow coach Terry Schwartzkopf said. "Of course, we will miss his ability next year. But what I am going to miss most is his presence. He led by action and deed. He was the consummate captain. He epitomized Dow High tennis."
Gurnee also finished his career with 32 tournament championships, tops on that list, and 35 shutouts, second on the MHSAA list.
He is one of 11 Dow players whose accomplishments this season have been added to the MHSAA record book. Click to check out the full listings and directions for submitting others.
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