G.P. South Completes Title Mission

May 31, 2014

By Scott Keyes
Special to Second Half

MIDLAND – From the flustered feeling of not knowing how bad the elements were going to be to start the season, to the snow showers that hit the courts during late April, the Grosse Pointe South girls tennis team prepared for everything as this rugged season began to take shape.

The results showed.

The No. 1-ranked team in Lower Peninsula Division 1 all season proved why as the Devils earned their second MHSAA LP Division 1 championship in three seasons with a convincing victory Saturday afternoon at the Midland Tennis Center.

Grosse Pointe South had 28 points, followed by Clarkston with 22 and Bloomfield Hills and Northville with 19 each. Port Huron Northern was fifth with 16 points.

"We knew what he had coming into this season after last year's third-place finish," Grosse Pointe South coach Mark Sobieralski said. "The girls came into this season on a mission. They kept improving every time they hit the court. It's always nice to win a state title, but this championship is extra special for the entire team. From the newcomers to the veterans, everyone on the team played a key role in making this happen. I couldn't be prouder."

Grosse Pointe South clinched the championship early, having earned multiple points in every flight Friday – and winning all four of their three-set matches that day.

"Last year we may have lost them because of the lack of experience," Sobieralski said. "The kids really grew up this season."

At No. 1 singles, Utica's Davina Nguyen defeated Clarkston’s Lexi Baylis, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match that was worth the price of admission.

A year ago Baylis lost in the final to Saline’s Mary Hanna, while Nguyen was ousted in the semifinal by Baylis.

This time, Baylis (headed to Michigan State University) blitzed Nguyen in the first set, 6-2, but Nguyen rebounded to win, 6-3, 6-4, to claim her second high school singles title.

Nguyen admitted the win was extremely gratifying, defeating someone of Baylis' caliber.

"On that last point I knew I needed to finish it then because I couldn't feel my hand at all during that last point," Nguyen said. "It was crazy. I lost to her last year, and to be able to gain a little redemption is pretty gratifying. My mindset coming in was the same as it was my freshman year when I won the state championship. I knew Lexi was going to give it her all, and to get the win is pretty amazing."

Besides winning the team title, Grosse Pointe South also had two individual flight winners on the day.

Maddie Paolucci defeated Elaina Parrillo (Midland Dow), 6-4, 6-2, at No. 4 singles, while the No. 4 doubles team of Ginny Hayden and Kelly Beardslee defeated Libby Quinn and Chloe Page (Northville), 6-2, 6-4.

Grosse Pointe South also reached the finals in two other flights but finished runners-up. Willard lost to Clarkston's Dana Olsen, 6-2, 6-1, while Sydney Keller and Morgane Flournoy lost to Amy Tseng and Maggie Bacheller (Port Huron Northern) at No. 2 doubles, 6-2, 6-2.

Raven Neely (No. 1 singles) and Angelica Kalogeridis and Jennifer Moy (No. 3 doubles) were semifinalists for Grosse Pointe South.

Parrillo wasn't the only Dow player that made it into the finals. Bloomfield Hills' Kerry Hu defeated Chargers freshman Caroline Szabo at No. 2 singles, 7-5, 6-3.

Dow coach Garrett Turner was impressed by the efforts of his team during the tournament.

"The future is definitely bright," Turner said. "In the finals Caroline ran out of gas, but she has nothing to hang her head about. We had a great tournament, and the kids will learn from this experience heading into next season."

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Pointe South raises its championship trophy Saturday afternoon at the Midland Tennis center. (Middle) Utica’s Davina Nguyen sends a shot during a No. 1 singles match en route to winning the flight. (Click to see more at HighSchoolsSportsScene.com.)

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

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

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 Detroit<A 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.)