LPD3 Champions Continue Dominance

May 30, 2015

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

GRAND BLANC – The unthinkable almost happened in one regard, then it did happen in another at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Girls Tennis Final on Saturday.

The unthinkable almost happened in that Williamston junior Sara Daavettila nearly lost a game.

The No. 1 singles standout for the Hornets, who also happens to be one of the top junior players in the country, Daavettila entered Saturday’s championship match against Sasha Hartje of Birmingham Detroit Country Day having not dropped a game in any of her matches this season.

But that streak was in jeopardy during the fourth game of the second set, when Daavettila struggled with her serve and fell behind 30-40 to Hartje.

Following a second serve, Daavettila then hit a forehand that hit the top of the net solidly and went straight up into the air.

The ball stayed in the air and then … dropped softly on Hartje’s side.

Point Daavettila.

Game back to deuce.

“I was really lucky,” Daavettila said. “I’m sorry to Sasha, but I was happy.”

Daavettila ended up staving off another game point, won that game to go up 4-0 and then wasn’t challenged the last two to beat Hartje, 6-0, 6-0, and win her second straight No. 1 singles title and extend her streak of games won to 245.

Given her dominance and national acclaim on the junior circuit, Daavettila sometimes gets asked why she bothers at all to play in high school.

But seeing teammates wearing shirts with her name on it cheering her every move, and the fact she gets well-wishes from classmates while walking the halls at school, make it an easy answer for her.

“The girls, I love them and I do it for the school,” said Daavettila, who also announced that she recently committed to play in college at University of North Carolina. “It’s great and supporting. Getting ready, that is how it is going to be in college. The USTA, it’s single so it’s a lot of individual. It’s nice to be on a team.”

Next up for Daavettila is a busy summer, which includes competing at tournaments each weekend, most notably a U.S. Open qualifier and a tournament in California.

As for the unthinkable that did happen, it was that Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood won its fifth straight team title despite not having a top seed at any of the eight flights.

But Cranbrook was No. 1 where it mattered most, the final team standings, using its superior depth to win it all again with a tournament-best 32 points.

“This was a team effort,” Cranbrook head coach Jeff Etterbeek said. “Everybody peaked at the right time. All our girls played their best tennis of the year. I was very pleased with our whole team.”

Grand Rapids Christian was second with 28 points, and Detroit Country Day was third with 27.

Holland Christian (17 points) and Grosse Ile (16 points) rounded out the top five.

Cranbrook Kingswood entered Saturday’s final day having advanced to the semifinals in all eight flights on Friday to take a one-point lead over Grand Rapids Christian, and the Cranes ended up making the finals at No. 2 singles, No. 3 singles, No. 4 singles, No. 2 doubles, No. 3 doubles and No. 4 doubles.

The team of Amanda Simmons and Amanda Twu won No. 2 doubles despite being seeded fifth, and the team of Amelia Smith and Alex Bowers triumphed at No. 4 doubles after being seeded second.

Emily Harvey advanced to the finals at No. 2 singles, Jazz Teste went to the finals at No. 3 singles as the third seed, Kate Cao made it to the finals at No. 4 singles, and the team of Sauma Du and Mackenzie Beckett advanced to the finals at No. 3 doubles.

“We felt that coming into this (Country Day) had the strongest singles lineup, Grand Rapids Christian probably had the strongest doubles lineup and we were somewhere in between both,” Etterbeek said. “Fortunately for us it worked out that way.”

Country Day did dominate the singles flights, as Haley Mullins at No. 2 singles, Sadina Fadel at No. 3 singles and Sarah Carroll at No. 4 singles all ended up winning championships to go along with Hartje’s runner-up finish at No. 1 singles.

Grand Rapids Christian was victorious in two doubles flights, with the team of Hannah Slenk and McKenzie Moorhead at No. 1 doubles and the team of Natalie DeBoer and Kate Zwiers at No. 3 doubles winning titles.

Because of stormy weather in the area, all of the tournament’s action on Saturday was moved indoors to Genesys Athletic Club in Grand Blanc.

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) Williamston junior Sara Daavettila returns a shot during her No. 1 singles championship match win. (Middle) Cranbrook Kingswood earned its fifth straight Finals championship. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.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 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.)