Greenhills, Lumen Christi Earn Celebrations

June 3, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

HOLLY If anyone watching the Lower Peninsula Division 4 No. 1 singles championship match Saturday wondered why Jackson Lumen Christi junior Taylor Smith was jumping up and down so much in between points, she had a method to that madness.

The second seed going into the tournament, Smith had lost her previous two matches this season to top seed Natalie Moyer of Kalamazoo Hackett, and Smith learned one valuable lesson before their third meeting.

“I had to constantly keep moving my feet,” Smith said. “I couldn’t stand still. I had to keep going the entire time and keep jumping up and down. I couldn’t get to her ball (in the first matches). She smacks the ball really hard, and in order to get the ball back I had to keep moving.”

Smith kept moving alright, all the way to when she accepted the medal handed out to the MHSAA Finals champion after she avenged those two earlier losses to Moyer with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Smith’s title at No. 1 singles ended up propelling Lumen Christi to its best ever finish at an MHSAA Girls Tennis Final, as the Titans took second with 27 points.

But leaving Holly High School with the championship trophy for the first time since 2009 was Ann Arbor Greenhills, which finished first with 32 points to cap off a year full of motivation after Greenhills disappointingly took fifth at last year’s Final.

“I’ve always felt the best thing to do is be Zen about these things,” Greenhills coach Mark Randolph said. “If you want to hit the target, you want to try and not aim at the target. Our goal was to be in the hunt on Day 2, and if we were in the hunt on Day 2, it’s all about bliss. Let’s go out there and let it rip, and they did.”

Reigning champion Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart scored 21 points to finish in third place.

Greenhills showcased its depth in winning the title with champions in four flights and a runner-up finish in another.

Vidhya Rajaprabhakaran at No. 3 singles, Phoebe Sotiroff at No. 4 singles, the team of Baani Jain and Giselle Farjo at No. 2 doubles and the team of Jamie Todd and Ryan Perry at No. 3 doubles were the champions for Greenhills.

Julia Freeman advanced to the final at No. 2 singles before losing to Maggie Ketels of Kalamazoo Hackett, 6-1, 6-4.

“Every single one of these kids made a huge contribution under pressure,” Randolph said. “We have five super seniors who have been dreaming about this since they were ninth graders and we were getting our hats handed to us.”

Lumen Christi coach Teri McEldowney had mixed emotions after everything was decided.

On one hand, she felt winning it all was an obtainable feat for her squad, but she said a couple of hard losses Friday and a couple more Saturday were too much to overcome.

On the other hand, though, it’s never a bad thing to finish higher than any other team in school history.

“My girls played the best that they ever played,” McEldowney said. “They brought it here, and that’s what matters to me.”

In addition to Smith’s title, Lumen Christi’s No. 1 doubles team of Geraldine Berkemeier and Jocee McEldowney prevailed in a thrilling three-set match over Sara Gerard and Anna Keating of Sacred Heart, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The Grand Rapids West Catholic duo of Elise Bolthouse and Izzi Nguyen won No. 4 doubles.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ann Arbor Greenhills’ Julia Friedman returns a volley during a No. 2 singles match Saturday. (Middle) Jackson Lumen Christi’s Taylor Smith powers through a swing on the way to winning No. 1 singles. (Click to see more from

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

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

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 DetroitA 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.)