LP Tennis Finals: Brackets at a Glance
May 30, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Only three champions are back this weekend in flights they won at the 2011 Lower Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals.
That means the likelihood of a lot of first-time individual winners -- and some shuffling among the contenders for MHSAA team titles.
Three of last season's Finals came down to three or fewer points. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood in Division 3 is the only reigning champion ranked No. 1 again heading into this weekend. Division 4 top-ranked Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart is the only top-ranked team this weekend seeking its first MHSAA title.
Below is a look at the races at a glance in all four divisions, plus flights that could make the biggest differences in deciding team champions. Play begins at 8 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, with Division 1 at Midland Tennis Center, Division 2 at Kalamazoo College, Division 3 at Fenton and Holly high schools and Division 4 at Holland High School. Admission is $5, or $10 per car where applicable.
Division 1: Port Huron Northern is ranked No. 1 and seeking its first MHSAA team championship since 2002. But the Huskies must hold off No. 2 Clarkston, which won its first team title last season and has six seeded flights – including five seeded among the top two in their respective flights. Port Huron Northern is seeded in seven flights, with four either numbers one or two. Grosse Pointe South, ranked No. 3, is seeking its first team title since 2008 but has won 12 in the tournament’s 30 seasons. (Click for full brackets)
Division 2: If a team is going finish ahead of reigning champion Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, it’s likely going to be from the Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills area. FHN has won six straight championships, all outright except when it shared with Bloomfield Hills Marian in 2010. Marian is ranked No. 1 this spring and finished ahead of No.3 Seaholm at their Regional, while Bloomfield Hills Andover is No. 2. Forest Hills Northern is ranked No. 4, and despite six seeded flights will need some upsets to keep the streak going. (Click for full brackets)
Division 3: Cranbrook-Kingswood is the favorite again after edging Detroit Country Day by a point in 2011. The Cranes are seeded at every flight, with six flights at Nos. 1 or 2. East Grand Rapids, owner of 16 MHSAA titles, is ranked No. 2 as a team but seeded in only two singles flights. The Pioneers will need big points from doubles flights that are all seeded No. 3 or better. (Click for full brackets)
Division 4: Academy of the Sacred Heart is expected to take another step with the top ranking after coming in as runner-up a season ago – Sacred Heart’s doubles teams have the top seeds in all four flights. But Capital Area Activities Conference White rivals Williamston and Lansing Catholic – ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively – will provide plenty of competition. The Hornets are seeded at seven flights and seeking their first championship since 2008. (Click for full brackets)
Plenty playing for No. 1: The No. 1 singles bracket in Division 1 is filled with intriguing contenders. Top-seeded Mary Hannah, of Saline, was a Quarterfinalist last season when she lost to Grand Ledge’s Hailey Barrett, who is seeded No. 3 this spring. No. 2 seed Katie Brozovich of Clarkston was the champion at No. 3 singles in 2011 and has dominated tough competition this season.
Cousin connection: Port Huron Northern’s Lizzie and Rae Brozovich – Katie’s cousins – are the top seeds at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively, in Division 1.
Unfinished business: Four of the eight players who made up the Division 1 No. 1 doubles semifinalists last season are back at that flight, but Ann Arbor Pioneer’s top-seeded pair of Alexa Arvidson and Julia Rampton are the lone pair of that group that returns intact.
Running up to the top spot: Bloomfield Hills Andover’s Kristen Law and Erin Weingarten were the runners-up at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively, last season. Both were two seeds in 2011 and are four seeds this weekend in the same flights.
The champ is here: Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Alexandria Najarian is one of three returning champions – Clarkston’s Lexi Baylis (Division 1 No. 2) and Kalamazoo Hackett’s Meika Ashby (Division 4 No. 1) are the others – but should get a tough test from second seed Sydney Liggins of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, a semifinalist in 2011.
Our turn: Allegan’s Kaycee Harness will try to help teammate Christin Drozd get one more win this season after Drozd and Hannah Schulz finished runner-up at No. 1 doubles in Division 3 last season. Harness played No. 3 singles at last season’s Finals.
Singles showdown: Ashby, mentioned above, is the returning champ in Division 4 but seeded only No. 2 behind Ann Arbor Greenhills’ Kasey Gardiner – the No. 1 champion in both 2009 and 2010. Gardiner didn’t compete in last season’s Finals.
Doubles must deliver: Academy of the Sacred Heart is planning on big finishes from its doubles teams, and that could start at the top with No. 1 pair Kelsey Nagle and Emily Nash. They are the top seed after making the semifinals last season as the No. 3 seed in this flight.
PHOTO: Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Alexandria Najarian won the No. 1 singles championship in Division 3 last season.
Elk Rapids' Schulte Sisters Splitting Finals Weekend Between Tennis, Track
By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com
June 2, 2023
Today began with a bye for Elk Rapids’ Jaida and Brynne Schulte as the Elks returned to the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Girls Tennis Finals in Kalamazoo.
They’re planning to say bye to their tennis teammates, though, when the first day of competition is over. The Elks will have to advance to Saturday without them.
That goodbye is just fine with tennis coach Keith Schulte. And, it will be more than fine with the Elk Rapids track & field team – which will be happy to say hello to the sister pair as they head to their LPD3 Finals in Kent City.
Regardless of how they fare today, the Schulte sisters will run Saturday.
Coach Schulte, who teaches strength and conditioning at Elk Rapids, is also the father of Jaida and Brynne. Today’s he’s beaming with pride, and not just for his tennis team’s success. He’s proud of all the student-athletes and their successes this spring, including the girls soccer team moving on to Regionals with a 2-0 win Thursday over Boyne City.
And while all this is going on, he should have a moment or two to just be Dad. Jaida and Brynne teamed up to win the No. 2 doubles title at their Regional as the Elks tied for first place with Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago. Then the Schulte girls captured first place in the Regional track meet to qualify for Saturday’s Finals. Brynne won the 1,600 and 3,200, and Jaida’s 3,200 relay team took first to move on.
Coach Schulte hasn’t had much time to pause and soak in the moment of his daughters’ qualifying for two Finals competitions during the same season.
“I didn’t think much of it until now,” the fourth-year coach said. “I’ve always just challenged my kids to do something difficult and not be scared to fail.
“They’ve just kind of found the balance on making this stuff happen,” he continued. “It is a pretty cool opportunity if you can go to two state championships.”
Getting to today’s Tennis Finals is a story full of success. The Elks’ first year under Schulte was halted after a week of practice due to the pandemic. The second year saw the team looking at a season with just nine potential players, but recruitment efforts resulted in the 2021 Elks managing to qualify for the Finals for the first time in their history.
Elk Rapids went on to win the Regional championship in 2022. And then, after graduating six athletes, the Elks were able to repeat this spring with a valiant effort resulting in the co-championship with their conference rival St. Francis.
Dual-sport standouts, while rare, aren’t entirely unheard of – especially at the state’s smaller schools where athletes frequently are needed to fill rosters in multiple sports during the same season. In fact, the Schultes aren’t even alone on their tennis team – sisters Ryleigh and Haleigh Yocum also are playing doubles today but softball on Saturday.
The Yocums won the Regional title at No. 2 doubles and also are slated to be the Elks’ first two batters as they take on Mancelona as one of the favorites to win a Division 3 District title on the softball diamond.
“I do feel bad for them – it’s states,” said 14-year veteran softball coach Erin Merchant. “I do want them to have that opportunity.
“I hope they go far,” she continued. “But then deep down, I’m like, ‘We need them Saturday.’”
Tim Nance and Jesse Way are in their first year co-coaching the boys and girls track teams at ER. They’re pleased the Schultes are prioritizing track while enjoying tennis.
“I think it is remarkable how resilient, laid back and casual the girls are about their success,” Nance said. “I would say it hasn’t compromised their talent, hard work and success.
“I think it has worked out great,” he continued. “I am selfish and I want them to myself only, but I am happy they can have two successes.”
The Elks will have Ayva Johnstone at No. 1 singles, Kelly Minidis and No. 2, Morgan Bergquist at No. 3 and Jasmine King at No. 4 this weekend. They also will have No. 1 doubles Chloe Taylor and Caroline Best and No. 4 doubles Tessa Nico and Portia Beebe, in addition to the Yokums and Schultes.
Jaida Schulte is a junior. She’s one of the recruits who joined to help the Elks get to their first Tennis Finals in 2021. Bergquist and Beebe were recruits in 2022.
Tennis is the favorite sport today for those three, but track and cross country are right up there for Jaida thanks to the opportunity to run with her freshman sister Brynne.
Jaida is hoping to at least match her personal-record split of 2:36 in the 3,200 relay Saturday. But her goal was first to win all of her doubles matches Friday and see the tennis team finish top-five in its division.
“Brynne loves track, and I love the challenge of running,” Jaida said. “I don’t think I would have the experience of running track or cross country without Brynne.”
Coaches saw very little disruption, if any, with their track, softball and tennis teams this spring with the Yocums and Schultes dual-sporting. The Schultes were able to get track and tennis practice or competition most every day.
“I prioritized track,” Brynne said. “I also got a lot of hitting time in for tennis.
“I would go to track practice first, and as soon as I would be done I would run over to the tennis courts and hit with my sister for a half an hour before going home,” she continued. “It has been worth it.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Elk Rapids sisters Brynne (left) and Jaida Schulte have teamed up at No. 3 doubles for the tennis team this season. (Middle) Brynne Schulte sets to start a track relay. (Below) The Schultes helped the Elks to their first two Regional titles in tennis, including their second straight this spring. (Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Schulte.)