Westwood Back on Top of UP D2 Tennis

May 28, 2014

By Craig Remsburg
Special to Second Half

ISHPEMING — They’re b-a-a-a-a-c-k. 

After a year’s absence, the Ishpeming Westwood boys tennis Patriots can again call themselves MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 champions.

Winning all three flights they placed in championship matches, the Patriots came away with 13 points to beat runner-up and defending champion Iron River West Iron County by two on Wednesday. 

Gwinn and Munising tied for third with 10 points, followed by Iron Mountain (8), Ishpeming (2) and Norway (0) in action held at Westwood High School.

“We definitely thought it was possible for us to win,” Patriots coach Chris Jackson said, “but it didn’t play out as we thought. We thought we’d need more points to win. 

“We had some help. It was more than a two-horse race, and there were four teams with at least 10 points each.”

Jackson said consistency and a non-champion, Westwood No. 1 singles player Quinn LeRoy, were keys to Wednesday’s title win — the Patriots’ second in three years. 

“Everyone held their serve — their flight,” he said. “All three of our No. 1 seeds won. The fact we could hold our flights was big.

“LeRoy was a No. 2 seed and faced a good player in West Iron County’s Ryan Rogers. Quinn was able to go out there and get that point.” 

Westwood got wins from Brett Fredrickson at No. 4 singles, Mitch Messing and Tristan Vitale at No. 3 doubles and Brandon Benda and Hunter Roose at No. 4 doubles.

Fredrickson said he was shaky in his first set of a 6-3, 6-0 win over West Iron’s Erick Upperstrom. 

“But Coach (Jackson) told me there were some things I needed to focus on, like hitting off my front foot and not my back, and not getting my hips into the shot,” Fredrickson said. “I also let the other guy make some mistakes.”

Benda and Roose knocked off West Iron’s Ryan Peterson and Tristan Nelson, 6-2, 6-0. 

“We were nervous at the start, but as time went on, we got better,” Roose said. “Our ball placement was really good.”

Added Benda: “After the fourth game (of the first set), we played with more confidence. We also tried to keep the ball in play.” 

Munising’s Noah Ackerman capped an undefeated season with a win at No. 1 singles over Gwinn’s Inigo Cepeda, 6-3, 6-0. 

“I was shaky at the start and started slow,” Ackerman said. “(Cepeda) started approaching the net, and I knew I couldn’t outhit him because he’s a great player and hits good strokes. 

“So I tipped (the ball) up and when he approached the net, I started to pass him down the line.”

It worked as Ackerman overcame a 2-2 start to win going away for his second straight Upper Peninsula Division 2 individual title. 

A senior, Ackerman said Cepeda — an exchange student from Madrid, Spain — started losing confidence midway through the first set, enabling the Mustangs netter to “focus on what I was doing.”

Cepeda might have been unsettled on the court. He broke the strings on his racket in the first set and had to use that of No. 2 singles teammate Micah Heat the rest of the match. 

“Inigo is more of a clay player, too,” Gwinn coach Dan Turecky said. “He plays a European style with more power. But (Ackerman’s) control won today.”

West Iron got wins from Andrew Peterson at No. 2 singles and Adam Newby at No. 3. 

“We both rallied well in the first set,” Peterson said of his 7-5, 6-3 win over Micah Heath of Gwinn. “We both had good ground strokes. 

“In the second set, he was up 2-1. Then I just tried to hit the ball as hard as I could.”

West Iron coach Joe Serbentas, whose Wykons have won a U.P. title six times in the last 10 years, said he and his netters were “disappointed” in their runner-up finish. 

“A couple of our flights in doubles didn’t perform as well as we wanted,” he said. “My No. 1 and No. 2 were top seeds, but didn’t get any points. We struggled there.”

Gwinn placed four flights in the finals, but managed to win just one — a 6-2, 6-4 triumph at No. 2 doubles by Mason Bruce and Erik Asplund over Munising’s Joel Werner and Nick Cerone. 

“Our serving was good today. We had a lot of aces,” said Bruce, who left the courts immediately afterward to play baseball Wednesday evening for the Channing American Legion baseball team. “Our net play was good, too.”

Turecky said he was “very pleased” with having four Gwinn flights in the finals. 

“But we only won one. We didn’t pull through those points, ” he lamented. “We went up against some good players. ”

Iron Mountain picked up a win at No. 1 doubles as Sawyer Kujala and Danny Willman outlasted Gwinn’s Jesse Mottes and Nick Bjork, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.

Click for championship match results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising's Noah Ackerman returns the ball to his Gwinn No. 1 singles opponent during the Division 2 U.P. Finals on Wednesday at Westwood High School. (Middle) Iron Mountain's Sawyer Kujala hits the ball back to his Gwinn No. 1 doubles opponents on the way to winning the flight. (Photos by Adelle Whitefoot).

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