Performance: East Grand Rapids' Sloane Teske
April 21, 2017
East Grand Rapids sophomore – Tennis
Teske capped her first season of high school tennis a year ago by making the No. 1 singles semifinals at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals. And that success should be just the start; Teske is 8-0 this season and won No. 1 singles Saturday at the prestigious Allegan Invitational, coming back to down Detroit Country Day’s Monique Karoub in three sets in the flight final to help the Pioneers to a shared team title with the Yellowjackets – and earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Teske fell to Karoub – last season’s Division 3 champion at No. 2 singles – 6-1 in Saturday’s first set before coming back to win the second 6-0. Teske trailed again in the third set before coming back one more time to win 7-5 and clinch the match victory. The elite pair has faced each other before in United States Tennis Association play, and Karoub had won their most recent match.
Frequently, top high school tennis players focus solely on that sport. But Teske is far more than a tennis star: She also plays on East Grand Rapids' golf team and carries a 4.2 grade-point average. She’s a few years from figuring out her future academically, but enjoys her history and mathematics classes most. A team leader already as an underclassman, she’s hoping to lead the Pioneers to their first MHSAA Finals title since 2009 after they finished runners-up to Bloomfield Hills Marian in 2016. East Grand Rapids currently is ranked No. 1 in Division 2.
Coach Mickey Mikesell said: “We’ve had Mr. Tennis go through here, other kids at the highest level. But one thing about Sloane – the biggest thing, is she’s a natural-born leader. She came in as a freshman, and in some ways took over the team. She played a lot of basketball growing up. Basketball, volleyball, those sports there’s a lot of yelling going on, and she’s like that – even as a freshman, she’s yelling at (her teammates) motivating them, cheering them on, and you rarely see that as a freshman. She has tremendous talent in her game; it’s fantastic, and it’s great having a player like that on a team to keep the team energized. Even when we do team dinners, like before Regionals (last year), she asked me, ‘Can I speak in front of the team?’ Rarely do I have kids do that at any age. … It’s just a good combination. She’s headstrong, she has lots of power, and the biggest thing with her is she’s so competitive, so feisty out there. That fire inside of her … she has a great chance to do something individually every year, but she wants us to win as a team, and that’s a good mix to have as a coach.”
Performance Point: “That day was a very tough day, specifically the conditions we were playing in – it was super windy outside,” Teske said of the Allegan tournament. “Multiple times the wind would be blowing from every direction. It was kinda funny some points, but also frustrating. You’d try to get the ball to go a certain direction, and most of the time it would go somewhere completely different. I was just trying to be very focused. I was aware of how close things were. … I knew it was going to be a tough match going against DCD. I kept the ball in play, tried to be super consistent, and when I saw the opportunity to go hit a winner and end the point, I did. My coaches were my biggest help; after the first set, they helped me to get my mind right and get ready for the next set. … They told me to just clear everything out, block everything out and get back my game and focus. After the match, I was still shocked – I couldn’t believe I came back and won that second set.”
Year older and wiser: “I’ve learned to just keep my cool and composure, just learned to take one match at a time … stay in the moment. It’s kinda tough. It’s hard not to worry about your next match, who you’re going to play, how you’re going to play. When I’m playing, I just block everything out, everyone out, and just focus on what’s in front of me.”
Head in the game: “The strongest part of my game, I just know how to think differently than my opponent. I work points to my favor – I will attack the backhand, and when they think I’m going to their backhand, I’ll go down the line to the forehand and they aren’t expecting that. It’s a fun way to play.”
Tee it up: “I just try to balance my schedule (with tennis and golf), especially during the summer. My parents help me out, trying to make sure I have everything. (Golf) is a break, sometimes for me, to take a break from tennis. And I come back (to tennis) stronger every time.”
It’s about team: “High school is a lot different (than USTA) … you always have your teammate’s back, you cheer for each other and help each other during matches. It’s really a fun thing – it’s different than going out there to be by yourself. … I love the feeling of winning, especially when I can do that with my team too.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
March 30: Romeo Weems, New Haven basketball – Read
March 23: Jaycie Burger and Maddie Clark, Pittsford basketball – Read
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving – Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling – Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball – Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball – Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball – Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Sloane Teske returns a volley during last season's Division 2 semifinal match against Mason's Olivia Hanover. (Middle) Teske serves while playing No. 1 singles for East Grand Rapids. (Top photo by HighSchoolSportsScene.com, middle photo courtesy of the East Grand Rapids athletic department.)
Cranbrook Enjoys Slight Edge This Time in Rematch of Frequent Contenders
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
June 3, 2023
ANN ARBOR — There’s not a lot of difference between the tennis teams from Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Detroit Country Day.
Certainly not on the scoreboard; the teams tied for the Regional title last month, and Cranbrook edged Country Day 33-31 on Saturday to repeat as Lower Peninsula Division 3 champion at the University of Michigan.
And there’s also little difference in the minds of Cranbrook coach Grant Asher and Country Day mentor Jessica Stencel.
“We deserved second today," Stencel said. “They were definitely the mentally-tougher team. And maybe if the tournament was held tomorrow, it might have been different. But it really came down to if we would have taken one different flight, then it would have been a tie. We just had too many loose spots we couldn’t figure out.”
And the Cranes made the most of those opportunities.
“We knew it was going to be really tough,” Asher said. “We were evenly matched, but the girls played the big points really well and handled the pressure of the state championship really well.”
Among the flight winners for Cranbrook were Sienna Ilitch and Olivia Zhang, who repeated as champions at Nos. 3 and No. 4 singles, respectively.
“I think it had to be a little harder (to repeat),” said Ilitch, who was the top seed going into the tournament. “I had a tough match in the semifinals, and I had another tough match in the finals against (Melanie Bandara of) Country Day. She really stepped up and played hard. It was a good, competitive match.”
Ilitch and Zhang, both juniors, were in finals for the third consecutive year. For Ilitch, her victory Saturday helped ease the pain of her loss at the 2021 tournament.
“It might have been more exciting because my freshman year I lost in the final match of the day and we finished second,” she said. “This year, I ended up (clinching) the title for us.”
For one of Cranbrook’s seniors, Saturday’s final was all about nerves and keeping her teammates focused.
Inijie Gazayerli, one of Cranbrook’s co-captains, cheered on her team despite being sidelined by a recent case of mononucleosis.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “I mean, last season seems like yesterday, and I’m so proud of this team and what we've been able to accomplish.”
Grand Rapids Christian finished third with 23 points, led by Brynn Uchmann, who defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Julia Gurne 6-1, 6-1 to take the No. 1 singles title.
Saturday’s Final marked the 12th year in a row either Cranbrook or Country Day hoisted the championship trophy.
In the end, it came down to the mental aspect.
“I’m usually able to keep calm, and I think that really helps me through really tough matches,” Zhang said.
PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene.