Forest Hills Rules D2: FHC's Ohlman Repeats, FHN Takes Back Team Title

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 1, 2024

BYRON CENTER — The last day of actual school this year for Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central senior Lily Ohlman might have been May 6. But from a tennis perspective, it can be argued that her last day of school was May 4 — when she learned a few things that paid off during her final high school tournament. 

It was then that Ohlman suffered a three-set loss to Megan Sullivan of Farmington Hills Mercy (10-8 in the third-set tiebreak). Earning a rematch with Sullivan in the No. 1 singles championship match at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on Saturday, Ohlman tried to figuratively go to school and do her homework from that last match with Sullivan. 

“Megan has an extremely good forehand,” Ohlman said. “She really hurt me with that in the last match. Going into this, I just tried as hard as I could not to hit it to her forehand. When I did, I tried to hit it deep and stuff.”

Ohlman certainly played like someone who did her homework from that match as well, as she earned her second straight singles title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the junior from Mercy. 

Ohlman reached Sullivan by surviving Ana Cheng of Mattawan in the semifinals, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

“I have thought about this every day for the past year since I won states for the first time,” Ohlman said of trying to repeat. “It’s been like a true dream come true for my tennis career.”

While Ohlman brought home an individual title for Forest Hills Central, rival Forest Hills Northern claimed the team championship for the third time over the last four years. The Huskies netted 29 points to edge 2023 champion Birmingham Seaholm, which finished with 23. 

Forest Hills Northern’s Paige McKenzie, right, with partner Ryan Morey, sends back a powerful volley at No. 1 doubles.Northern had players in five flights advance to finals, with four of those flights producing championships.

FHN’s title was punctuated when the No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie defeated Seaholm’s team of Jenna Ting and Katie Slazinski in a thrilling final, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Northern actually had the team title clinched by that point, but head coach Steven Olson didn’t want his players to know that. 

“I don’t want them to back off because they think the team has already won it,” he said. “I want them to think they are still hunting for a title the entire time.”

Huskies junior Andrea Wang defeated Keira Kirkland of Farmington Hills Mercy, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-2 to win at No. 2 singles, sophomore Harriet Ogilvie captured the title at No. 3, and the team of Lauren Jaklitsch and Morgan McKenzie won at No. 2 doubles. 

Olson guided his team to a Finals title in his second year as head coach after taking over for Dave Sukup, who led the program for 49 years before retiring. Northern had fallen to No. 2 behind Seaholm in the final regular-season coaches rankings. And then the Huskies lost their No. 1 singles player Nathalie Lanne to a torn ACL last week.
Her replacement, Natalia Acevedo, managed to win a first-round match to earn a crucial point despite not being seeded.

Also stepping up was sophomore Aanya Dogra, who entered the tournament unseeded at No. 4 singles. Dogra recorded upsets of No. 3 seed Elisa Costeux of Mattawan and No. 2 seed Maddy Youngblood of Grosse Pointe South before falling in the championship match to No. 1 seed Gabby Owens of Farmington Hills Mercy, 6-0, 6-2.

Still, Dogra’s run earned some major points for the Huskies.

“The rest of the team just stepped up and performed,” Olson said. “It’s been a wild weekend, but I’m very proud of these girls.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman returns a volley during her No. 1 singles championship match Saturday. (Middle) Forest Hills Northern’s Paige McKenzie, right, with partner Ryan Morey, sends back a powerful volley at No. 1 doubles. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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