Greenhills, Cranbrook Singles Ace Finish Championship Climbs

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

October 15, 2022

MASON — Just like he had the last two years, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior Owen DeMuth advanced to the No. 1 singles championship match Saturday at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals, where on the opposite side was the top seed from Ann Arbor Greenhills.

The only difference is that this time it was a different top seed. 

Instead of current University of Michigan player and last year’s Mr. Tennis Award winner Mert Oral, this time the opponent was Greenhills senior Chakor Rajendra. 

DeMuth had lost to Oral the last two years, but didn’t want to think about those defeats against Rajendra as he tried to make the third time the charm. 

“I wanted to stay in the moment and enjoy it,” DeMuth said. “This being my last high school tennis match ever, I just try to stay in the moment and not think about that.”

Not only did DeMuth stay in the moment during the match, but he got to celebrate a championship moment when it was over after beating Rajendra 6-1, 6-4. 

DeMuth was seeded second after losing two of three matches to Rajendra during the regular season, which created a bit of motivation.

Cranbrook Kingswood tennis“Just played with an underdog mentality,” said DeMuth, who will play in college at Georgia Tech. “Knowing I was going to have to work for it, and it wasn’t going to be handed to me.”

Cranbrook coach Steve Herdoiza said DeMuth did a good job of making suggested adjustments for what was the fourth meeting of the season with Rajendra, but he didn’t want to get too much into specifics as to what those adjustments were.

“I can’t give away all the secrets,” Herdoiza said. “But I think he just got very clear and decisive on the strategy he wanted to use.”

While DeMuth celebrated the individual title at No. 1 singles, Rajendra and the rest of Greenhills did get the final laugh in the team portion. 

Greenhills won its first Finals championship since 2019 by scoring 35 points, finishing two points ahead of runner-up Cranbrook. Detroit Country Day was third with 23 points. 

After winning it all in 2019, Greenhills was second in 2020 and third last year, and those experiences helped beyond measure for a team with seven seniors. 

“This felt good,” Greenhills coach Eric Gajar said. “We’ve been there in that situation, so this time when they got in a similar situation, they were icy and ready to go. They pulled through and got it done.” 

Greenhills showcased its depth in winning the title, having finalists in seven of the eight flights. 

Rishi Verma at No. 2 singles, the team of Ismael Metwally and Lucas Nor at No. 1 doubles, the tandem of Arjun Prabhakar and Dylan Carvette at No. 3 doubles, and the team of Charles Branch and Ajay Purohit at No. 4 doubles all won flight championships for the Gryphons. 

“That’s what it takes to beat good teams,” Gajar said. “It’s to have a complete lineup. We did, and they all delivered. Every point mattered, and we got what we needed from them.”

The other flight winners were Clay Hartje of Detroit Country Day at No. 3 singles, Amaan Khan of Cranbrook at No. 4 singles, and Cranbrook’s team of Andrew Fink and Jace Bernard at No. 1 doubles. 

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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