'Locked In' Clarkston Claims 1st Finals since 2011, Potentially Just Getting Started

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 1, 2024

MIDLAND – Kayla Lemke, a freshman and the No. 3 singles champ, put it best Saturday afternoon at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Girls Tennis Finals at the Midland Tennis Center.

“We might be better next year,’’ she said after defeating Evie Price of Holland West Ottawa, 6-0, 6-1, to clinch her flight. We have two eighth-graders coming up next year.’’

The Wolves ran away with the team title, scoring 28 points to 22 for runner-up Utica Eisenhower. The championship was the program’s first since 2011 and first top-two finish since 2014. Ann Arbor Pioneer saw its team title streak end at three, placing third..

Clarkston entered Saturday with a two-point lead on the Eagles and finalists at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles, and No. 2 and No. 4 doubles..

“I left Deer Lake (Racket Club) for a couple of years and our talent went down after our run in 2011, 2012 and 2013,’’ said Wolves coach Mary Jo Colonna. “I went back and we started developing talent. We have a large group coming in next year and the year after and the year after. This is a great group, and I’m happy for them.’’

At No. 1 singles, Eisenhower sophomore Gabriella Sadowski outlasted Rochester Adams’ Nicole Fu, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 to claim her first title. Fu finished No. 1 singles runner-up for the third-straight season.

“I went up 3-0 in the third, and it gave me confidence,’’ said Sadowski. “We had fresh balls, and I was able to play from the baseline and pound the ball.’’

Utica Eisenhower's Gabriella Sadowski returns a volley during her No. 1 singles championship win. At No. 2 singles, Clarkston freshman Sydney Geisz lost the first four games in her match with Isabelle Hult. But she rallied to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

“I had to keep my mental focus,’’ said Geisz. “I came back a little bit in the first set, and I kept believing if I stayed focused, I could win.’’

Like Geisz, Clarkston junior Charlotte Partchenko, lost in the first set to Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Arella He, before rallying to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“The word they used today is ‘locked in,’’’ said Partchenko. “After the first set, I got locked in. I focused more on what my opponent was doing instead of just hitting the ball. Once it got locked in, I started playing better.’’

Troy seniors Clara Yalamanchili and Elena White captured No. 4 doubles with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Clarkston’s Lily Stephenson and Abby Finnerty. Yalamanchili and White lost just one match all season.

“I think we played really well; I think that’s the best we’ve played all year,’’ said Yalamanchili. “We were really into it. It’s our senior season. That was our last tennis match in high school. It went perfectly.’’

Added White: “We had played them before, so we knew what to expect.’’

Brooke Nicholson and Alexis Gabriel of Eisenhower claimed No. 1 doubles over Novi’s Madira Sardar and Alice Chen, 6-2, 6-4. At No. 2 doubles, Troy’s Marin Fox and Nainika Jasti bested Clarkston top seeds Katrina Fisher and Ava Henkel, 6-4, 6-3. Bloomfield Hills’ No. 3 doubles team of Natalie Petrucci and Nisha Singhi outlasted Troy’s Anna Wang and Jhoshi Prasath 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in that final.

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PHOTOS (Top) Clarkston's Sydney Geisz hits a forehand during her No. 2 singles title victory Saturday at Midland Tennis Center. (Middle) Utica Eisenhower's Gabriella Sadowski returns a volley during her No. 1 singles championship win. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.) 

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