Clarkston's No. 1 Rises to New Challenge

May 10, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Take the word "enthusiastic," make it an adverb, grab a thesaurus, and find a number of ways to characterize how Katie Brozovich plays tennis.

Her energy and spirit show through in how she puts her body into every shot. And they come out when she’s frustrated with herself and fires up an impromptu personal pep talk on the court.

“When I’m frustrated, I’m not the one to hold it in. I have to say something,” Brozovich said. “I’m not saying things critically. I’m just working on not bringing myself down.

“I get a lot of people (looking like), ‘What are you doing?’”

The answer: Winning every match.

Brozovich, in her first season at No. 1 singles after dominating lower flights, is 15-0 atop the lineup for the reigning Division 1 champion Wolves.

She gets a Second Half High 5 this week for winning her flight at the Holly Red and White Invitational, beating Port Huron Northern’s Taylor Sweeney 6-4, 6-1 in the championship match. Clarkston, ranked No. 4 in the state coaches poll, tied Division 2 No. 1 Birmingham Marian for the team championship – ahead of Division 1 top-ranked Port Huron Northern, No. 7 Ann Arbor Huron and No. 8 Midland Dow.

Sweeney advanced to last season’s MHSAA Quarterfinals at No. 1. But Brozovich is plenty used to top competition – and fully embracing the opportunity to finish her high school career playing against the best.

She’s been in Clarkston’s singles lineup all four years of high school – she played No. 3 as a freshman, before finishing MHSAA runner-up at No. 2 as a sophomore and then winning the No. 3 championship last spring.

“Each year I was happy with the spot I was playing. But I thought it was a better opportunity to play (No.) 1 because of the big competition,” Brozovich said. “That what I like. I felt good, and I prepared myself for it.”

The Clarkston singles lineup was set to be loaded again this spring with No. 1 Semifinalist Gabriella Spindler a senior and reigning No. 2 champion Lexi Baylis also expected back. But Spindler opted to not play this spring, and Brozovich and Baylis battled through two three-set challenge matches to determine who would fill the top spot.

“Katie is a beast. She wanted that number one spot, and being her senior year, she was not going to take anything less,” Clarkston coach Becky Freeman said. “This year, being a senior, she knows what we’re looking for. She’s seen it all – the good, bad and ugly.”

Brozovich has signed with Bowling Green, a regular contender in the Mid-American Conference, and expects to be part of the lineup as a freshman. Her aunt, Sue (Brozovich) Kaleel, was a four-time champion at Miami (Ohio). Click to read more about Brozovich's family connections, dream matchup and future endeavors.

PHOTO: Clarkston's Katie Brozovich prepares to return a shot during her No. 3 singles match at last season's MHSAA Division 1 Final. 

Adams' Fu Hoping to Write Championship Headline After Repeat Finalist Finishes

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

May 23, 2024

ROCHESTER HILLS — An editor for her school newspaper the last two years, Nicole Fu is one who loves to tell good stories and write good headlines. 

Greater DetroitA junior at Adams, Fu enjoys getting to know people around the school and giving them a moment in the sun, so to speak.

“I love being able to talk with so many people and learn the stories behind their accomplishments,” Fu said.

It’s ironic, because come the end of next Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Girls Tennis Finals, Fu hopes professional media outlets around the state will talk about her own story of accomplishment, possibly with headlines such as “Redemption Feels Sweet for Fu” or “Third Time is Charm for Adams Tennis Star.”

Both the last two years, Fu has advanced to the championship match at No. 1 singles in Division 1. 

But while quite an accomplishment to do so as a freshman and sophomore, she also left somewhat unsatisfied, losing in 2022 to Reese Miller of Ann Arbor Pioneer (6-1, 6-1) and last spring to Sari Woo of Ann Arbor Skyline (6-3, 6-4). 

“Being in the final both my freshman and sophomore years has shown me that I have what it takes to win a state championship even when it gets tough,” Fu said. “Last year especially has shown me that I’m not far from the title, and staying strong both mentally and physically is going to be crucial to hopefully winning a state title.”

No doubt, Fu should be one of the top contenders, if not the favorite.

She enters with an 18-0 record and has brilliantly handled opponents attempting to give her their best performances.

“Her ability to handle the pressure has improved a lot,” Adams head coach Greg Burks said. “She has matured as a top-level player and competes as well as any player I’ve ever had.”

Fu, left, congratulates Ann Arbor Skyline's Sari Woo after their match.Fu actually said she got her start in tennis a little later than most. After dabbling in soccer and swimming, Fu started playing tennis at age 10 when one of her mom’s co-workers gave her a foam ball and a kids racquet. 

“Then I started hitting against our living room wall, and one day my mom asked if I wanted to take an actual tennis lesson,” Fu said. 

From there, Fu started playing in tournaments, and the tennis bug bit her.

“I really loved competing in matches, so I didn’t stop and it ended up being very rewarding,” she said.

Fu also has an accomplished hitting partner in twin sister Katie, who lost in the championship match at No. 2 singles last year. 

“She’s always a great hitting partner, and it’s really nice to have someone who understands the sport and what it takes to balance that out with everything else,” Nicole Fu said. “She’s basically my second brain too, so having her around during the season is super fun and helpful for keeping me in check.”

Fu has a collegiate future in the sport, having committed in November to play tennis at the U.S. Naval Academy. 

“Obviously the education is extraordinary, and attending a service academy builds your character both physically and mentally and sets you up to make an impact on the nation,” Fu said. 

When it comes to next week’s MHSAA Tournament, Fu obviously is aiming to make another impact at the championship level – but this time finish the quest she fell short of the last two years. 

“This year as a back-to-back finalist and a strong favorite has put a lot of pressure on me to win my matches,” she said. “So there’s definitely a lot of expectations for this season, and managing that was a little bit tough in the beginning of the season. But over time I’ve kind of learned to embrace it, and it’s given me more confidence in my matches knowing I’m the player people are aiming to beat.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Rochester Adams' Nicole Fu returns a volley during last season's No. 1 singles championship match at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Fu, left, congratulates Ann Arbor Skyline's Sari Woo after their match. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)