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. 

Cranbrook Enjoys Slight Edge This Time in Rematch of Frequent Contenders

By Tim Robinson
Special for

June 3, 2023

ANN ARBOR — There’s not a lot of difference between the tennis teams from Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Detroit Country Day.

Certainly not on the scoreboard; the teams tied for the Regional title last month, and Cranbrook edged Country Day 33-31 on Saturday to repeat as Lower Peninsula Division 3 champion at the University of Michigan.

And there’s also little difference in the minds of Cranbrook coach Grant Asher and Country Day mentor Jessica Stencel.

“We deserved second today," Stencel said. “They were definitely the mentally-tougher team. And maybe if the tournament was held tomorrow, it might have been different. But it really came down to if we would have taken one different flight, then it would have been a tie. We just had too many loose spots we couldn’t figure out.”

Division 3 tennisAnd the Cranes made the most of those opportunities.

“We knew it was going to be really tough,” Asher said. “We were evenly matched, but the girls played the big points really well and handled the pressure of the state championship really well.”

Among the flight winners for Cranbrook were Sienna Ilitch and Olivia Zhang, who repeated as champions at Nos. 3 and No. 4 singles, respectively.

“I think it had to be a little harder (to repeat),” said Ilitch, who was the top seed going into the tournament. “I had a tough match in the semifinals, and I had another tough match in the finals against (Melanie Bandara of) Country Day. She really stepped up and played hard. It was a good, competitive match.”

Ilitch and Zhang, both juniors, were in finals for the third consecutive year. For Ilitch, her victory Saturday helped ease the pain of her loss at the 2021 tournament.

“It might have been more exciting because my freshman year I lost in the final match of the day and we finished second,” she said. “This year, I ended up (clinching) the title for us.”

Division 3 tennis - WilliamstonFor one of Cranbrook’s seniors, Saturday’s final was all about nerves and keeping her teammates focused.

Inijie Gazayerli, one of Cranbrook’s co-captains, cheered on her team despite being sidelined by a recent case of mononucleosis.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “I mean, last season seems like yesterday, and I’m so proud of this team and what we've been able to accomplish.”

Grand Rapids Christian finished third with 23 points, led by Brynn Uchmann, who defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Julia Gurne 6-1, 6-1 to take the No. 1 singles title.

Saturday’s Final marked the 12th year in a row either Cranbrook or Country Day hoisted the championship trophy.

In the end, it came down to the mental aspect.

“I’m usually able to keep calm, and I think that really helps me through really tough matches,” Zhang said.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene