West Iron Adds 13th Tennis Finals Title in Near Sweep

By Matt McCarthy
Special for Second Half

June 3, 2021

KINGSFORD —West Iron County, with its senior-heavy roster, won every flight but one in dominating the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 boys tennis championships Thursday afternoon at the Kingsford High School Tennis Facility.

The event, which was hosted by Iron Mountain, was held at various courts in the Iron Mountain-Kingsford area. 

The lone flight not won by the Wykons was No. 1 doubles, claimed by Garrett Mann and Ryan Lafountain of the runner-up Ishpeming Westwood Patriots. David Juul of Iron Mountain gave eventual No. 1 singles champ Nolan Anderson another of the best challenges.

West Iron finished with 23 points, followed by Westwood with 13, the host Mountaineers in third with 10 points, Ishpeming with seven points and Gwinn with three. 

"You come into these type tournaments, and every school has at least one strength throughout the flights," said veteran West Iron head coach Joe Serbentas. "We've been steady and deep throughout the lineup all season. We've never had as strong of a performance in UPs as we did today, as long as I have been coaching." 

West Iron County tennisThat’s saying a lot. West Iron has won 13 Finals championships total, including seven under Serbentas’ leadership. The Wykons had most recently won in 2018, after two straight runner-up finishes and before finishing runner-up again in 2019. Last season was canceled due to COVID-19.

With 10 seniors, Serbentas expected his team to fare well again in the event. Anderson won No. 1 singles, Mitch Ballinger took No. 2, Alex Wickstrom won No. 3 and Drew Alexa won No. 4 singles. 

In the doubles flights, Lucas Isaacson and Cole Alexa won No. 2, No. 3 winners were Lucas Shovald and Colton Holm, and Justin Nelson and Andy Fredrickson won No. 4 doubles. The Wykons’ victories were mostly by significant margins as well. 

Anderson, who lost only one match all season, was happy with winning UPs as a senior.

"This is a good way to go out,” he said. “I have never won UPs before. So I am glad I could do it.”

PHOTOS: (Top) West Iron County’s Nolan Anderson sends back a volley during one of his matches Thursday at No. 1 singles. (Middle) West Iron celebrates its Division 2 championship, the 13th Finals title in program history. (Photos by Matt McCarthy.)

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