Greenhills Extends D4 Dynasty

October 19, 2013

By Greg Tunnicliff
Special to Second Half

GRAND BLANC – Growing up in a family known for basketball, Teddy Oosterbaan decided to break from tradition and become a server – of tennis balls.

The Kalamazoo Hackett freshman is the son of J.P. Oosterbaan, who was a three-year letterwinner at the University of Michigan from 1987-89, helping the Wolverines win the 1989 NCAA championship. Teddy also is the grandson of John Oosterbaan, a two-year letterwinner at Michigan from 1962-63.

“I just try to do the best that I can,” Teddy Oosterbaan said. “(Tennis) is exciting and our team making states was cool.”

While the youngest Oosterbaan isn’t sure if he will suit up for Hackett on the hardcourt, he already has left his mark on the tennis courts.

Saturday, he was rarely challenged en route to posting a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Cal Willa of Grand Rapids West Catholic in the Lower Peninsula Division 4 No. 2 singles championship match at Genesys Athletic Club in Grand Blanc.

“I was in a pretty good rhythm the whole year,” said the 6-foot-4 Oosterbaan, who ended 24-1. “I felt I was getting better the whole season.”

Top-ranked Ann Arbor Greenhills continued its dominance in the team competition, capturing five of the eight fights en route to earning its sixth straight team championship and seventh in the last eight seasons.

The Gryphons finished with 33 points in the 24-team field, nine more than runner-up West Catholic (24).

“It’s a new group of guys each year; it’s a new challenge each year,” Greenhills coach Eric Gajar said. “They were well prepared. All the stuff we asked them to do, they brought together this weekend. They delivered at crunch time.”

At No. 1 singles, Lansing Catholic junior Matt Heeder overcame a slow start to post a 6-4, 6-3 victory over West Catholic’s Nicholas Solarewicz in the championship match.

Heeder fell behind 3-0 in the opening set before winning six of the next seven games. He was never seriously threatened after that en route to capturing his first Finals championship.

“After getting down 3-0, I started staying down on the ball,” Heeder said. “I was a little nervous the first couple of games, but coach settled me down and I got into a groove. I tried not to over think. I just did what I was capable of doing.”

Pacing Greenhills was its No. 4 singles player, sophomore Gage Feldeisen, who captured his second championship and first at singles. Feldeisen, who was seeded second, won all four of his matches in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over top-seeded A.J. Samdal of Grand Rapids South Christian in the final.

“Being the No. 2 seed, you don’t have any pressure to win,” said Feldeisen, who won at No. 4 doubles last year. “You can go out and just play the best you can. I hit my forehand a lot, tried to stay consistent.”

Greenhills captured all four double flights, led by its No. 1 team of senior Adhi Rajaprabhakaran and freshman Sam Talsma. The second-seeded tandem upset top-seeded Alex Lemire and Mike Nowicki of West Catholic, 6-1, 7-5, in the championship match.

“We were expecting a lot from ourselves from the beginning,” Talsma said. “We knew we had what it took to win the title. We never thought about anything else during the match.”

It is the third doubles championship for Rajaprabhakaran, who won at No. 3 in 2011 and No. 2 last year.

“It’s all I could ask for,” Rajaprabhakaran said. “I never lost in Division 4, and I wanted to keep that streak going. Along with our team winning, which is more important, I couldn’t be happier.”

Greenhills’ No. 2 doubles team of senior Neil Sykes and junior Isak Akervall needed back-to-back three-set victories to capture their flight Saturday. The twosome posted a 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) come-from-behind triumph over Alan Jurcak and August Bonacci of Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the final.

“I never expected to get here the first year, upset the No. 1 seed,” Akervall said. “We had to stay strong the whole time. I’m just ecstatic.”

It is Sykes third Finals title, having won at No. 4 doubles the previous two seasons.

“I’m shaking right now,” Sykes said. “It took a lot of work in the offseason and during the season, trying to keep up with the competition. (Winning a third straight championship) is a good way to go out.”

The Gryphons’ freshman No. 3 doubles tandem of Andy Xie and Matt Chatas entered the tournament as the top seed and showed the field why, winning all four of their matches in straight sets.

“We just had to stay loose and not get down if we lost a game,” Xie said. “After a couple of games, we just got into our zone.”

The duo rolled through their first three matches, yielding no more than four games in a set. In the championship match, they held off second-seeded Jack Ninivaggi and Alex Dow of Liggett, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

“For the first day, we just had to get through,” Chatas said. “The second day, we had to play hard and make sure not to give (opponents) anything.”

Junior David Groden and sophomore Brandon Johnson joined Greenhills’ team this fall, and they got their careers off to fast start by winning the No. 4 doubles championship.

“I still can’t believe it,” Johnson said. “I’m so happy, it’s unreal.”

The twosome, which was seeded No. 2, upset top-seeded Jackson Benning and Davey Sekhon of Liggett, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the championship match.

“We realized we were playing for the title,” Groden said of his and Johnson’s performance in the third set. “We wanted it, and we did it.”

Rounding out the individual winners was Hackett freshman Henry Hedeman, who won at No. 3 singles. Hedeman, who was seeded No. 1, captured all four his matches in straight sets, yielding no more than one game in a set.

He beat third-seeded Nick Link of West Catholic, 6-1, 6-1, in the championship match.

“It was pretty nerve-racking; you don’t want to have a big upset happen,” Hedeman said. “I had to play smart. I had to focus on the tournament.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ann Arbor Greenhills poses with its latest MHSAA championship trophy. (Middle) Greenhills players huddle after repeating as Lower Peninsula Division 4 champions. (Photos courtesy of Greenhills tennis.)

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