Favorites Marian, Fox Finish First
June 1, 2013
By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half
GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP — Athletes sometimes have a mantra they repeat to get through tough patches in the heat of competition.
Power-packed words like “compete,” “strong” and “courage” often provide a mental boost to the struggling athlete.
So, what went through the mind of Bloomfield Hills Lahser junior Mollie Fox with the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 No. 1 singles championship on the line?
“‘Angry bubbles and elephants,’” she said. “Those are the words I repeat to myself to laugh and keep things more lighthearted, just when things start to get close.”
There were plenty of tense moments for the top-seeded Fox, who was pushed to a rare three-set match before emerging victorious by a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 score over previously unbeaten senior Sara Remynse of Richland Gull Lake on Saturday at Genesys Athletic Club.
Fox broke Remynse’s serve in the third set to take a 4-2 lead. A break by Remynse closed the deficit to 5-4 before Fox closed it out on her opponent’s serve.
After taking a 4-1 lead in the first set, it was a battle all the way for Fox, who was upset in last year’s semifinals after also coming in with a No. 1 seed.
A relaxed approach helped Fox overcome the burden of high expectations.
“I went in with a little less pressure than before, knowing it’s a game and whatever happens will happen,” Fox said.
Remynse was the Division 3 runner-up as a freshman in 2010. She didn’t play high school tennis the last two seasons, focusing on United States Tennis Association tournaments. After signing with the University of Michigan in the fall, she decided it would be fun to play high school tennis as a senior.
Remynse beat Fox in a USTA tournament last summer, but wound up on the short end of a highly competitive match on Saturday.
“She’s a really good player,” Remynse said. “She deserved to win. She was the better player in the third set. I can’t be mad.”
Birmingham Marian, a powerhouse in Division 2, added a second MHSAA championship to its string of 19 consecutive top-10 finishes. Marian beat Birmingham Seaholm, 27-23. Ada Forest Hills Eastern finished among the top three for the 11th straight year, placing third with 21 points.
“People didn’t think we were going to be as good as what we were,” Marian coach Lincoln Wirgau said. “We have 14 girls on our team, myself and my assistant. We circled up after our team was set, and it was us 16 against everybody else; we were fine with that. I like our odds with those girls and our six seniors.”
A common thread for this year’s team and Marian’s 2010 squad is the presence of a Lunghamer sister.
Kelly Lunghamer was the No. 3 singles champion, and Kristin Lunghamer made the No. 1 doubles semifinals in 2010. This year, freshman Breann Lunghamer matched Kelly’s feat by winning No. 3 singles.
After winning a marathon 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 semifinal over Mason’s Samantha Perkins, Lunghamer won the title with a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Claire Markley of Seaholm.
“I always saw them winning state titles and never knew what a state title was like,” Lunghamer said. “I always watched them being excited and happy about it. It’s pretty cool.”
Lunghamer was Marian’s only singles champion. The Mustangs also had champions at No. 2 doubles, with first-time finalists Tatyanna Dadabbo and Sally Thorensen winning.
Okemos sophomore Emily Struble repeated as No. 2 singles champion in dominant fashion, winning 48 games and losing only five in four matches. She led 5-0 in the first set of the finals against Lauren Dietz of Marian, then lost two games in a row before regrouping for a 6-2, 6-0 victory.
The No. 1 doubles championship duo of senior Nancy Benda and junior Jackie Meier of Seaholm never played together before this year.
Benda was a successful singles player, losing in the semifinals in 2011 and the second round last season in the No. 1 flight. Because of a wrist injury, it was determined that playing doubles would be best for her.
“It was definitely a different game,” Benda said. “I wasn’t used to doubles at the beginning of the season. It was an adjustment period, but Jackie and I came together. It was mostly getting used to the court and having two girls on the other side of the net. There’s more strategy involved.”
Meier was on the championship No. 3 doubles team last year before making the leap in competition to No. 1 doubles.
“At No. 1 doubles, every single team comes out to play so hard,” Meier said.
Lahser won half of the singles titles, with Meryl Reams taking the No. 4 flight with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Catherine Yaldoo of Marian.
Forest Hills Northern’s Stephanie Nguyen and Sarayna Sundaram won No. 3 doubles by beating Kyra Fitz and Danny Harro of East Grand Rapids, 6-2, 6-0.
Seaholm’s Lauren Benderoff and Sam Lareau won No. 4 doubles by a 6-2, 6-1 score over Charlotte Garrison and Madison Lorenz of Bloomfield Hills Andover.
PHOTOS: (Top) Birmingham Marian's Sally Thorensen returns a shot during Saturday's LP Division 2 Finals. She and partner Tatyanna Dadabbo won the No. 2 doubles flight. (Middle) Lahser's Mollie Fox won the No. 1 singles championship, taking the final match in three sets. (Below) Birmingham Seaholm's Nancy Benda and Jackie Meier (left) shake hands with Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern's Victoria Minzlaff and Shelby Moored after winning the No. 1 doubles final. (Click to see more at HighSchoolsSportsScene.com.)
Performance of the Week: Holland's Ahava Le Febre
May 19, 2023
Ahava Le Febre ♦ Holland
Freshman ♦ Tennis
Le Febre finished an undefeated run through Ottawa-Kent Conference Green competition by winning the No. 2 singles flight at Friday's league tournament and helping Holland to its first conference title since 2006 as the Dutch scored 45 points, just one more than runners-up Zeeland East and Muskegon Mona Shores. Le Febre had entered the tournament as the top seed at her flight.
The Le Febre family actually occupies the top two singles spots for Holland, as senior sister Libby Le Febre plays No. 1 and finished runner-up at that flight Friday. Their older brother Thadd was part of Holland's Division 2 boys soccer championship team in 2017. Ahava Le Febre is 18-4 this season and has won 11 straight matches, and her team capped its dual season this week at 16-3-1 and will play in the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Regional on Saturday at Portage Central.
@mhsaasports 🎾POW: Ahava Le Febre #performanceoftheweek #tennis #2singles #league #okgreen #conferencechamp #champions #holland #dutch #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp ♬ original sound - MHSAA
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May 11: Gracie Maloney, Macomb Dakota softball - Report
May 4: Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron track & field - Report
April 27: Owen Patton, Vestaburg track & field - Report
April 20: Lilly Damm, Millington softball - Report
April 13: Larissa Huffman, Mackinaw City track & field - Report
April 6: Darius Acuff, Detroit Cass Tech basketball - Report
March 23: Regan Finkbeiner, Hemlock basketball - Report
March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9: Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2: Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23: Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9: Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2: Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26: Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10: Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
PHOTOS by Jason Craner (action) and Sarah LeFebre (head shot).