Midland Dow Travels Little to Go Far

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

October 15, 2022

MIDLAND — Midland Dow's boys tennis team didn’t have to travel far to claim another MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 title Saturday at the Midland Tennis Center.

With top performers in every flight, the hometown Chargers were well-represented in their quest for the championship trophy, leading the likes of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, which made a late charge; Mattawan, Birmingham Seaholm and Birmingham Groves.

Dow finished with 32 points, followed by Northern with 27 and Seaholm at 22.

All seven Finals team titles have come under coach Terry Schwartzkopf, who was the face of frustration as things got close during the semifinals. The Chargers previously had won titles in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016.

Dow lost semifinal matches at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles. But sophomore and top seed at No. 4 singles Nimai Patel clinched the championship for Dow with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Sebastian Madlangbayan of Forest Hills Northern.

“I started out pretty strong, I was up 4-0 and then he started playing really well,’’ said Patel. “I started feeling the pressure. I finished out the first set, but the second set I was up 3-2 and my foot started cramping. I started hitting out every single ball. I had to regroup. I put some cream on where I was cramping, and I started playing a lot better.''

Patel said he understood Schwartzkopf’s frustration.

“We’re a very talented team and we were capable of getting through every flight,’’ said Patel. “We finished third last year. So, to get through this year and win was great.’’

Grosse Poitne South senior Connor Stafford upset top seed Sammy Yin of Forest Hills Central 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to claim the No. 1 singles title.

“I felt like I made a lot of silly errors in the first set,’’ said Stafford. “I thought the match turned when I was up 4-1 in the second set. Mentally I was concentrating on hitting my shots. I didn’t want to lose my last high school match. It was great to get here and win.’’

Dow claimed No. 2 singles when top seed Aaron Li came back from losing the first set and prevailed, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 over Karan Deol of Forest Hills Northern.

Li advanced to the final at No. 2 Singles when Chris Shang of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central had to retire because of cramping.

“In the first set I didn’t have a good forehand,’’ said Li. “My coach talked to me after the first set, and I was able to find my forehand.

"We were hungry for the title this year. Coach will be happy for us.’’

Nolan Ackerman of Mattawan won No. 3 singles over Logan Yu of Dow, 6-3, 6-7 (8-6), 6-1.

Rivals Groves and Seaholm played for the fourth time this year in No. 1 doubles. Seaholm won all four with Alex Lewis and Zane Chutkow earning the title 6-3, 6-4.

“We just bring the fight every time we face them,’’ said Lewis. “We can say we’ve never lost to Groves.’’

Dow captured No. 2 doubles as top seed Roofy Elsaadany and Aiden Tanis won 6-1, 6-2, in their final.

“It was a long year,’’ said Elsaadany. “I was out three weeks. We worked hard to get to this point.’’

Added Tanis: “Everything we did was to get to this point. The hard work paid off.’’

At No. 3 double,s Dow’s top seed Vishagen Karthikeyan and Shubhan Nagarkar lost to Northern’s Kyle Cornell and Tanay Shenoy 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.

No. 4 doubles went to Seaholm’s Ricky Sparby and Nick Kelley with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. 

Click for full results

PHOTOS (Top) Midland Dow celebrates its latest Division 2 championship. (Middle) Mattawan's Nolan Ackerman sends back a volley on the way to winning the No. 3 singles title. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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