Flight Finals Wins Help Iron Mountain Complete Team Title Climb

By Travis Nelson
Special for Second Half

September 30, 2021

ISHPEMING – Iron Mountain capped off its season as Upper Peninsula Finals champions Thursday afternoon, claiming the Division 2 title at Westwood High School.

The Mountaineers won flight titles at No. 2 singles and No. 2 and 3 doubles, earning 17 points. Last season’s champion, West Iron County, finished runner-up with 14 points. Ironwood and Ishpeming tied for third with seven, followed by Munising with five, Gwinn four and Norway.

“First and foremost, I’m just extremely proud of these girls,” Iron Mountain coach Marcus Celello said. Last year we got second place and we were one match away from winning it, so we knew what it took to be close. But first day of practice, we said that was the ceiling, that was our potential, that nothing was going to be given to us. My main takeaway is just that I’m really proud of this group of girls.”

Iron Mountain had finished runner-up six times since winning its last Finals championship while playing in Division 1 in 2010. 

This Division 2 title was going to come down to a couple of matches between Iron Mountain and West Iron County. The Mountaineers and Wykons faced off in three flight finals, and Iron Mountain won all of them. 

“We knew it could very well come down to a situation like this, us and West Iron in a couple of finals, and whoever pulls away in those will come out on top,” Celello said. “Low and behold, that’s essentially what happened today. We were prepared for the possibility and we just didn’t let it affect us mentally, and we just played our game and took care of business.”

For the Mountaineers, Aziza Burgoon had to come back against West Iron County’s Aurora Dahl after losing the first set to win No. 2 singles 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in a long match. She was joined by her waiting teammates on the court for a celebration afterward.

“The first set I was pretty nervous,” Burgoon said. “Normally, I’m not a very nervous person, but I guess emotions got to me and I dropped the first set. Then I went over and talked to my coach and they said, ‘Leave it all out there and just have fun,’ and that’s when I really started playing well. Just having fun, and I won the second set, and the third set I was nervous coming back a little bit.”

Danika Juul and Rediet Husing won No. 2 doubles for Iron Mountain, downing West Iron County’s Lillie Schmutzler and Callista Bortolameolli 6-2, 6-3. 

West Iron County tennis“It feels really, really good,” Juul said. “When we play them, it’s always a really good match, and it feels good that we were able to pull through at the end there.”

The tandem’s motto for the season was “smarter not harder” on their shots, and it led to three points on the year’s biggest stage.

“Point by point too, that was key for us,” Husing said.

Anike Cameron and Kensie St. John captured No. 3 doubles for Iron Mountain with a 6-3, 6-3 win over West Iron County’s Autumn Smith and Seanna Stine.

Elsewhere, West Iron County’s Kali Applin had to bounce back after dropping the first set to win No. 1 singles 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 over Gwinn’s Lily Kerry. After taking home the No. 2 singles title last year, it was an emotional end to Applin’s career.

“It was a long match, but I feel good,” Applin said. “Just knowing that I had another chance to get it back, there’s always a second set, and if I win that, there’s always a third set that I can win. It feels good to win for the school.”

The Wykons also took No. 3 singles, with Brynlee Nodurft defeating Munising’s Jenna Matson in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

“It was really my mental game,” Nodurft said. “I was down 4-1 in the first set and that was really hard for me, and I’m just glad I came back. It was really difficult and I’ve never played her, so it was really hard because I didn’t know how she played. So I guess I was just learning her game and how to mix with that.”

Ironwood and Ishpeming won the remaining flights, with Ironwood getting victories at No. 1 and No. 4 doubles, and the Hematites claiming No. 4 singles. Leilah Anderson and Ella Darrow defeated Iron Mountain’s Bella Brown and Anja Kleiman 6-1, 6-2 at No.1. The Red Devils’ pair of Sarah Lauzon and Yoyo Sin downed another Iron Mountain team of Hailey Greenleaf and Mia Vedin 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to clinch a share of third place. 

Ishpeming was able to get No. 4 singles with a 6-1, 6-2 win by Emily DeMarois over Iron Mountain’s Elle Loftholm. DeMarois started the year playing doubles, and it took a tough adjustment to play singles and get the Hematites a flight title.

“It actually took a lot because I didn’t play singles until about halfway through the season,” DeMarois said. “So to come out here, especially in this heat, it’s crazy. It took a lot of mental power and just not beating myself the whole time.”

Iron Mountain didn’t have to face the adversity it experienced at times during the regular season, but the days that didn’t go right prior to Thursday helped make the championship moment.

“It took lots of ups and downs,” Celello said. “There were days where we lost 0-8, 1-7 sometimes against some high-quality opponents. You just can’t let that affect you mentally. What I’ve been preaching to the girls is that tennis is already 60 percent mental, 40 percent physical. If we let it get to more of a mental game than it already is, we’re not going to be successful. Our message before we all went out to start today was that we just had to take it point by point.”

PHOTOS (Top) Iron Mountain's Aziza Burgoon takes in the moment during her No. 2 singles win. (Middle) West Iron County's Kali Applin follows through on a shot during the No. 1 singles final. (Photos by Travis Nelson.)

Seaholm Breaks Free From 3-Way Tie to Win 4 Flights, Clinch Team Title

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 3, 2023

MIDLAND – A Lower Peninsula Girls Tennis Final has never finished with a three-way tie at the top – yet Birmingham Seaholm, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central all entered Saturday’s Division 2 flight semifinals with 22 points at Midland Tennis Center.

But with stellar play from its doubles teams, Seaholm won its first title since 2018, ending Forest Hills Northern’s Finals streak at three championships with 32 points to the Huskies’ 27. Forest Hills Central tied for runner-up, also with 27.

Seaholm’s first flight champion came from the No. 4 doubles tandem of junior Stella North and freshman Lucy Jen, the top seeds. They defeated Maggie Moog and Clare Knoester of Forest Hills Northern, 6-0, 6-4.

“We came out and dominated the first set,’’ said North. “In the second set, we had kind of a slow start.’’

“Then they adjusted to what we were doing, and we had to adjust,’’ said Jen. “We have a great tennis community at Seaholm. We’re a family and we have so many girls come out.’’

Added North: “I’m so happy for Lucy. She had to go through so much to make the team. We had tryouts and we played two days a week. We were the top team in our conference, so there was some pressure.’’

Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman volleys on the way to winning the No. 1 singles flight.Seaholm kept the momentum going winning the No. 2 doubles title with Katie Slazinski and Jenna Ting defeating Ava Hamilton and Lauren Jaklitsch of FHN, 6-3, 6-1.

“We had played them before with an alternate, so we hadn’t played that exact team,’’ said Slazinski. “I feel like we were in control. We were playing our way.’’

“We got up 3-0 in the first set, which was big,’’ said Ting. “We kind of dropped slightly, but we regrouped and got fired up.’’

Seaholm added another flight championship with the No. 3 doubles team of senior Sydney Fong and sophomore Jordyn Lusky downing Forest Hills Central’s Veronica Vincent and Ella Hunnewell, 6-2, 6-1.

“Jordyn has been great,’’ said Fong. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. We played them before, so we knew what to expect. We had a plan. We took notes and executed what would thought were our strengths and their weaknesses. Our coaches do a great job.’’

Seaholm scored a championship at No. 2 singles as well, as Courtney Marcum outlasted Anna Dinsmore of Portage Central, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, in that final.

Forest Hills Central junior Lily Ohlman, second-seeded at No. 1 singles, made school history in getting past top-seeded Helania Pietrowsky of Grosse Pointe North 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

“I have been dreaming about this for a year,’’ said Ohlman, fighting back tears. “When she was having trouble keeping the ball in play, I just said keep the ball in play. In the second set, I started missing shots and my coach reminded me to just keep the ball in play. I just thank God.

“I’m the first (girls) singles champ in school history. This is so amazing.’’

Forest Hills Northern’s Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie celebrate their championship at No. 1 doubles. Portage Central freshman Adelie Chen captured the No. 3 singles title over Jada Josifovski of Seaholm, 7-5, 6-4.

“After the semifinals, I didn’t think I could do it, but my teammates believed in me," said Chen.

In the battle of freshmen at No. 4 singles, FHN’s Harriet Ogilvie defeated Chloe Cox of FHC, 6-1, 6-2.

“I really like her as a player and a person,’’ said Ogilvie. “I had played her before, so I know her tendencies. I started executing what I needed to do and was able to keep the points coming and build some momentum. This is the end of a great season for me.’’

Forest Hills Northern’s No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie kept Seaholm from sweeping doubles by defeating Tatum Hirsch and Ellie Wyzykowski 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.

First-year Huskies coach Steven Olson had to make a tough decision during a No. 2 singles semifinal, retiring his player Andrea Wang as she faced off with Marcum.

The two were tied at one set apiece – Wang won the first 6-1 and Marcum the second 7-6 – and Marcum was winning the third 5-1. But Wang’s right ankle was injured so badly she could barely move.

“She won the first set pretty quick,’’ said Olson. “She wouldn’t quit. I asked her to, and she wouldn’t. She’s a competitor, and she has a lot of pride. She’s only a sophomore.’’

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PHOTOS (Top) Birmingham Seaholm’s Courtney Marcum fires a backhand during a No. 2 singles match Saturday at Midland Tennis Center. (Middle) Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman volleys on the way to winning the No. 1 singles flight. (Below) Forest Hills Northern’s Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie celebrate their championship at No. 1 doubles. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)