Preview: Favorites Set, but Challengers Aim to Prevent Repeat Results

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 19, 2023

Three 2022 Lower Peninsula boys tennis champions are ranked No. 1 heading into this weekend's Finals, but at least one new champion is guaranteed. 

Bloomfield Hills in Division 1 and Midland Dow in Division 2 are considered favorites to repeat in those respective divisions. But reigning Divison 3 champion Ann Arbor Greenhills is playing again in Division 4, opening up the Division 3 bracket to other contenders  although of course hopefuls will be aspiring to prove the rankings wrong in all four. 

Play begins between 8-8:30 a.m. Friday at the various sites for opening rounds, and between 8-9 a.m. Saturday for anticipated semifinals and championship matches. Visit the Boys Tennis page to find out which flights will be played at each location and to track results as they are received. 

Below is a glance at several contenders in all four divisions. 

LP Division 1 at Midland Tennis Center & Midland High School

Top-ranked: 1. Bloomfield Hills, 2. Troy, 3. Northville

Bloomfield Hills moved up from runner-up in 2021 to champion last fall, winning by 10 points and with that title the program’s third over the last six seasons. Troy was the 2021 champion and finished third a year ago, one point behind runner-up Northville as the Mustangs earned their first top-two Finals finish in program history.

Bloomfield Hills: The Black Hawks won three doubles and two singles flight championships during their dominating 2022 run, and they’re seeded to win six this time. Junior Pierce Shaya (21-0), part of last season’s No. 1 doubles champion, is seeded first at No. 2 singles, and sophomore Connor Shaya (24-0) was last year’s No. 4 singles champion and is seeded first at No. 3 this time. Senior Merrick Chernett was the other half of that No. 1 doubles champion, and he and senior Aaron Rose are seeded first at that flight. Seniors Ryan Rose and Michael Dillon are seeded first at No. 2 doubles and won that flight last year. Senior Kierth Lingam and junior Dominic Pascarella are seeded first at No. 3 after winning No. 4 last year, and senior Ethan Endelman and junior Asher Langwell are seeded first at No. 4 this time. Sophomore Jonah Chernett is the third seed at No. 3 singles.

Troy: The Colts are seeded fourth or better at all eight flights, with the second seeds at all four doubles. Senior Haresh Anand (26-1) has the team’s lone top seed, at No. 4 singles, but junior Dhruv Gupta is seeded third at No. 3 singles after finishing runner-up at No. 4 a year ago. Senior Nish Palepu and sophomore Derrick Kim were the runners-up at No. 2 doubles last season and are the second seeds at No. 1 this weekend. Senior Derek Blackwell is the fourth seed at No. 1 singles.

Northville: All eight flights are seeded fifth or higher, with the singles lineup including two second seeds after top-seeded senior and two-time reigning champion Sachiv Kumar (24-0) at No. 1 singles. Junior Brian Zhang was part of the runner-up at No. 4 doubles last season and is teaming with senior Nathan Waller for the third-seeded pair at No. 2.

Clayton Anderson, Rochester senior: The No. 1 singles runner-up the last two seasons, he’s 21-1 this fall with his only loss to Kumar in August. He’s second-seeded at the top flight.

Chad Anderson, Rochester sophomore: He’s also second-seeded, at No. 2 singles, and 17-3 with two of those losses to Pierce Shaya.

LP Division 2 at Byron Center West Sports Complex, East Kentwood & Grand Rapids South Christian

Top-ranked: 1. Midland Dow, 2. Mattawan, 3. Birmingham Seaholm

Dow is the reigning champion, coming off its first Finals title since 2016 and seventh under coach Terry Schwartzkopf since 2009. Mattawan is seeking its first title and finished fourth last season and second in 2020. Seaholm also is seeking a first Finals team championship in this sport and has finished runner-up three times, most recently tying for second in 2018. The Maples placed third last year.

Midland Dow: The Chargers are undefeated this fall, and their seeding reflects that dominance as six flights are top-seeded. The entire singles lineup is back from last season, with senior Aaron Li (24-1) the reigning champion at No. 2 and the top seed at that flight, junior Nimai Patel (28-1) the reigning champion and top seed at No. 4, senior Logan Yu (27-0) the reigning No. 3 runner-up and top-seeded, and No. 1 singles junior Austin King (33-0) also a top seed after making the semifinals last season. Seniors Roofy Elsaadany and Vishagen Karthikeyan are the top seed at No. 1 doubles after Elsaadany was part of last year’s No. 2 champion and Karthikeyan part of the No. 3 runner-up, and senior Andrew Frickey and sophomore Matthew McGaugh are the top seed at No. 4.

Mattawan: The Wildcats will be playing for their best finish with six seeded flights, including all four at singles. Senior Garrett Cheng and freshman Dylan Hodgman lead the way as the second seeds at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively.

Birmingham Seaholm: The Maples graduated two doubles champions from last season but are seeded at seven flights, led by No. 3 doubles top-seeded seniors Mohan Badhwar and Sammy Abdo. Junior Carson Wright and senior Sean Joyce are the second seed at No. 3, and senior Blake Smith is the second seed at No. 2 singles.

Karan Deol, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern junior: He’s seeded third at No. 1 singles after taking Dow’s Li to three sets in last season’s No. 2 singles championship match. He’s 24-3 this fall with his only losses twice to Drew Hackney (below) and once to Dow’s King.

Drew Hackney, Muskegon Mona Shores senior: He’s 28-0 and the second seed at No. 1 singles. He reached the quarterfinals last season, giving King a tough match there after entering as the sixth seed.

LP Division 3 at Kalamazoo College & Western Michigan University

Top-ranked: 1. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 2. Detroit Country Day, 3. East Grand Rapids

Reigning champion Ann Arbor Greenhills is back in Division 4, and Cranbrook is back as the favorite in Division 3. The Cranes have won six of the last eight Division 3 titles, with Greenhills winning the other two during that time. Cranbrook followed its 2021 championship with a runner-up finish last fall, finishing only two points off the lead. Country Day finished third and is seeking its first title since 2014, and East Grand Rapids tied for fourth last season and is seeking its first title since the spring 2007 season.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood: Saturday should be busy as four Cranes flights are top seeds, and the other four are second seeds. Junior Amaan Khan (20-0) was the champion at No. 4 singles last season and is top-seeded at that flight, and sophomore Jace Bernard (17-3) is the top seed at No. 3. Cranbrook won No. 1 doubles last season and finished runner-up at the other three doubles flights, with Bernard and senior Andrew Fink that champion at No. 1; Fink is second-seeded at that flight this weekend with junior Aryan Tiwari, part of last year’s No. 2 runner-up. Freshman Ryan VanDyke and senior Ben Stevenson are the top seeds at No. 3 doubles, and seniors Ketan Swami and Kevin Guo are the top seeds at No. 4 after Guo was part of the runner-up at that flight last season and Swami was part of the runner-up at No. 3. Junior Ryan Michaels (10-10) is the second seed at No. 1 singles after reaching the semifinals at No. 2 last year.

Detroit Country Day: The Yellowjackets are set up well to make a push. Country Day is seeded third or higher at every flight, with two top seeds and a second seed in singles. Junior Saahitth Reddy is the top seed at No. 1 after receiving the seventh seed at that flight last season; he’s 10-9, but has won nine of his last 10 matches with all of his defeats to Division 1 opponents. Junior Dan Marin (19-4) is the top seed at No. 2 singles after reaching the semifinals at that flight last season.

East Grand Rapids: The Pioneers are seeded at seven flights and could make their move based on the success of some highly-regarded doubles pairs. Seniors Charlie Lentz and Luke Lentz are top-seeded at No. 2, seniors Ben Ruppert and Walter Zimdar are second-seeded at No. 3 and senior Joe Mulder and junior Tommy Rosmarin are second-seeded at No. 4.

Bhavesh Burramukku, St. Joseph junior: The third seed at No. 1 singles is 26-2 with his only losses to Division 1 opponents.

LP Division 4 at Hope College & Holland Christian

Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Greenhills, 2. Traverse City St. Francis, 3. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett

As noted above, Greenhills was last season’s Division 3 champion but is back in Division 4, where St. Francis and Liggett have combined to win the last three titles. Liggett won last year and in 2020 and was runner-up in 2021, edging Hudsonville Unity Christian by three points to claim last season’s championship.

Ann Arbor Greenhills: The Gryphons are seeded second at No. 1 singles and first at the other seven flights as they seek to win this division for the first time since 2018 after playing in Division 3 the last four seasons. Junior Kabir Rajendra (12-8) is that second seed at No. 1 after he was runner-up at Division 3 No. 3 last year. He’s followed in the singles lineup by top-seeded junior Teddy Staebler (23-7) at No. 2, sophomore Charlie Rich (22-7) at No. 3 and freshman Murli Pandey (21-9) at No. 4. Seniors Lucas Nor and Alex Ye are top-seeded at No. 1 doubles after Ye was part of last year’s runner-up at No. 1 in Division 3 and Nor was part of the champion at No. 2. Senior Charles Branch and sophomore Ajay Purohit are the top seed at No. 2; they teamed up to win No. 4 in Division 3 last fall. Sophomore Richard Wu and freshman William Pearce are the top seed at No. 3, and senior Shyam Pandey and freshman Maksim Rakic-Denis are the top seed at No. 4.

Traverse City St. Francis: The Gladiators are seeded fifth or higher at all eight flights, led by strength in doubles. Juniors Eli Schmude and David Ansley are the second seed at No. 1, and freshman Casey Jackson and sophomore Brady Thelen are the second seed at No. 4. Ansley was part of the No. 3 runner-up last season. Junior Owen Jackson (26-9) is the third seed at No. 1 singles after winning No. 2 last season and No. 3 in 2021, and senior Chris Bobrowski is the fourth seed at No. 2 after finishing No. 3 runner-up in 2022.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett: The Knights are seeking their fifth Division 4 championship over the last eight seasons, and they’ll enter with six seeded flights and a singles lineup that will be especially key. Senior Sebastian Courtright (22-8) is the top seed at No. 1 after finishing runner-up at that flight the last two seasons, and junior Charlie Cooksey is the second seed at No. 2 after winning No. 4 last season.

PHOTO Troy's Dhruv Gupta returns a volley during last season's Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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