Inside or Out, Black Hawks Dominate D1

October 20, 2018

By Chris Stevens
Special for Second Half

MIDLAND – Inside or outside, the Bloomfield Hills boys tennis team knows exactly what it takes to win an MHSAA Finals championship.

Last year, the Blacks Hawks won on the outdoor courts at the Greater Midland Tennis Center. Saturday, at the same location, they went back-to-back in capturing a second straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 title. This time, the action took place inside because the outdoor courts were wet due to overnight showers and winter-like weather.

Regardless of location, the taste of winning a second straight championship is incredibly sweet. Bloomfield Hills, which dominated the competition with 37 points, has now won three of the past four Division 1 titles. Birmingham Brother Rice and Ann Arbor Huron tied for second Saturday with 22 points. Northville was fourth with 20 points, and Troy placed fifth at 17.

“We have a very close team,” said Black Hawks star senior No. 1 singles player Andrew Zhang, a hard-hitting left-hander, who captured an individual title en route to running his season record to 26-0. “Everyone has a close bond with each other and cheers for one another.

“We put in a lot of hard work this season. The entire team showed a lot of dedication throughout the season. We trained very hard,” added Zhang, who’ll play his college tennis at Duke University. “We are very fortunate to have such a strong team.”

Bloomfield Hills coach Greg Burks was proud of his team’s effort, saying the Black Hawks steadily improved throughout the fall. In particular, he said that Zhang’s stellar play led the way.

“Every bit of adversity that he faces on the court, he handles spectacularly. He’s one of the best thinkers on the court that I’ve ever seen,” Burks said. “He’s the ultimate sportsman. If you ask any of the players in our area who they think is the nicest tennis player, Andrew would be right there (at the top.) He’s a great kid, and I’m going to miss him.”

The Black Hawks captured Finals titles in five of eight flights.

At No. 1 singles, Zhang did not drop a set during the tournament. In the championship match, he posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Brother Rice’s Jarreau Campbell.

“It was a tough match,” Zhang said. “Jarreau is a great player.”

Bloomfield Hills also won at No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles, No. 2 doubles and No. 4 doubles.

At No. 3 singles, Sebastian Burman needed three sets to defeat Clarkston’s Frank Piana in the title match, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

At No. 1 doubles, Noah Roslin and Adrian Wilen recorded a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 decision over Troy’s Michael Song and Aniket Dagar. At No. 2 doubles, Ryan Frank and Andrew Chen swept Daniel Dong and Justin Yang of Northville, 6-1 and 7-6.

At No. 4 doubles, Michael Lee and James Piel, who were seeded fourth in their flight, upset the second-seeded tandem of Troy’s Alex Yang and Noah Tanguay, 6-3, 6-2.

“As a team, we continued to improve throughout the season,” Burks said. “(Like Andrew said), the entire team got along well, and bonded together.”

In other championship flights, Brother Rice’s JJ Eterbeek went three sets to beat Bloomfield Hills’ Tommy Herb, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. At No. 4 singles, Northville’s Matthew Freeman posted a 7-6, 6-1 win over Cade Burman of Bloomfield Hills.

Then, at No. 3 doubles, Ann Arbor Huron’s Sammy Clyde and Pranav Sharma outlasted Max Nosanchuk and Phoenix Williams in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Bloomfield Hills posted 24 points on Friday to open the tournament. Next was Ann Arbor Huron with 20 points.

The Black Hawks built such a decisive lead early on Saturday that the team title was sealed before all of the title matches had concluded.

“Obviously, it’s an unreal feeling,” Burks said of the team capturing a second straight Division 1 title. “We played well last year, but this year, all eight flights played great (in the tournament), and that doesn’t always happen.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills’ boys tennis team holds up its Division 1 title trophy and a banner celebrating its back-to-back championships Saturday. (Middle) Black Hawks No. 1 singles player Andrew Zhang prepares to return a volley during his run to the No. 1 singles title. (Click to see more from

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

By Jerry DeRoche
Special for

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.)