Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern is playing for a fourth-straight Lower Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals championship this weekend, with Ann Arbor Pioneer seeking a third straight in Division 1, Ann Arbor Greenhills going for the repeat in Division 4 and Detroit Country Day looking to rebound for a sixth Division 3 title over the last seven seasons.
But full brackets of contenders are seeking to stand in the way – including another reigning champion and No. 2-ranked teams either seeking their first Finals title or first in two decades.
All four divisions again will be played Friday and Saturday over multiple locations, with semifinals and finals to be played at the first sites listed below in each division.
Below is a glance at the highest-ranked teams in each division and additional No. 1 singles players expected to be in contention. Click for full brackets and more from MHSAA.com.
LP Division 1 at Hope College and Holland Christian High School
Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Pioneer, 2. Troy, 3. Bloomfield Hills.
Ann Arbor Pioneer: The Pioneers have won two straight LPD1 championships, claiming last year’s outright after sharing with Bloomfield Hills in 2021. Those two titles came with sweeps of singles flight titles, and that’s a possibility again with junior Elsie Van Wieren seeded second at No. 1 and junior Bridgette Kelly, senior Juliana Pullen and freshman Sophia Liang seeded first at Nos. 2-4, respectively. Van Wieren won No. 2 the last two seasons, and Kelly won No. 4 the last two years. All four doubles pairs are seeded fourth or higher as well, with top seeds at No. 2 with juniors Eleanor Vogel and Casey Roe and No. 3 with sophomores Elita You and Arella He. Vogel was part of the No. 3 runner-up last season.
Troy: The Colts are seeking their first team championship since 2003 and finished third a year ago with three doubles pairs earning runner-up finishes. This weekend senior Grace Zhu and junior Nika Tanako are seeded first at No. 1, and junior Marin Fox and freshman Nainika Jasti are seeded first at No. 4, with the Nos. 2 and 3 pairs also earning top-three seeds. Zhu was part of last season’s No. 1 runner-up, and Tanako was part of the No. 2 runner-up pair, while 2022 No. 4 runners-up Vienna Thieu and Michelle Baik are playing this time at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, with other partners. Two singles flights also are seeded, with senior Stephanie Ochoa fourth at No. 3 after playing doubles last season with Zhu.
Bloomfield Hills: After tying with Pioneer in 2021, Bloomfield Hills missed doing the same last season by one point. Three singles flights and one doubles pair are seeded this weekend, led by second-seeded junior Julia Yousif at No. 3 singles after she was runner-up at No. 4 last spring. Seniors Natalie Raab and Colleen Pettengill are seeded third at No. 1 doubles after Raab was part of the No. 2 champion and Pettengill part of the No. 4 winner a year ago. Freshman Prisha Lingam will debut as the fourth seed at No. 1 singles.
Sari Woo, Ann Arbor Skyline junior: She’s 15-1 this spring, with more than half of her wins by 6-0, 6-0 scores and the only loss a default. Woo finished No. 1 runner-up as a sixth-seeded freshman in 2021.
Nicole Fu, Rochester Adams sophomore: She’s the third seed at No. 1 singles for the second-straight season and after finishing runner-up a year ago.
LP Division 2 at Midland Tennis Center and Midland High School
Top-ranked: 1. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 2. Birmingham Seaholm, 3. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern: The Huskies’ championship streak reached three last spring as they edged Seaholm by four points, and they enter this weekend with all eight flights seeded third or higher. Freshman Harriet Ogilvie will play her first Finals as the top seed at No. 4 singles, while juniors Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie earned the top seed at No. 1 doubles and senior Maria Jacobs and sophomore Morgan McKenzie are top-seeded at No. 3. The team’s other three singles flights all are seeded third after moving up one flight coming off runner-up finishes in 2022 – junior Nathalie Lanne now at No. 1, sophomore Andrea Wang now at No. 2 and senior Miriam Ogilvie now at No. 3 after finishing second at No. 4 a year ago. Morey was part of last year’s No. 2 doubles champion and Paige McKenzie part of the runner-up at No. 4 with Ava Hamilton, who is part of this weekend’s third-seeded pair at No. 2.
Birmingham Seaholm: The runner-up last season and in 2019 is seeking its first title since 2018 with seven seeded flights including top-seeded juniors Katie Slazinski and Jenna Ting at No. 2 doubles and top-seeded junior Stella North and freshman Lucy Jen at No. 4. Slazinski was part of last season’s No. 2 doubles runner-up and Ting was part of the No. 4 champion. Seniors Tatum Hirsch and Ellie Wyzykowski are teaming up for the third seed at No. 1 doubles after Hirsch was part of last year’s No. 3 champion and Wyzykowski partnered with Slazinski at No. 2, and senior Sydney Fong is part of the third seed at No. 3 after teaming with Ting for that No. 4 title in 2022. Senior Madeleine Leo has moved to No. 1 singles after finishing as part of the No. 1 doubles runner-up last season.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central: The Rangers are expected to jump after finishing seventh last season, and all eight flights are seeded fifth or higher. Leading are junior Lily Ohlman with a second seed at No. 1 singles, sophomore Maggie Moog and freshman Clare Knoester with the second seed at No. 4 doubles, and freshman Chloe Cox as the third seed at No. 4 singles. Ohlman made the No. 2 singles quarterfinals last season.
Helaina Pietrowsky, Grosse Pointe North senior: She’s the top seed at No. 1 singles in her third season playing that flight, and she’s 14-3 with two losses to Division 1 players and the third by default. She made the quarterfinals last season as a sixth seed.
Allison Wootton, Portage Northern senior: She’s also in her third season at the top flight and the No. 4 seed this time, entering this weekend 24-2.
LP Division 3 at University of Michigan and Dexter High School
Top-ranked: 1. Detroit Country Day, 2. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 3. Grand Rapids Christian.
Detroit Country Day: The Yellowjackets moved up to the top spot in the rankings this week after tying Cranbrook for the Regional title. They finished fifth at the Final a year ago coming off five straight LPD3 championships, and will be back in the hunt with all four singles flights second-seeded and three top seeds and a third seed at doubles. Juniors Peja Liles and Marin Norlander are the top seed at No. 1 doubles – Liles was part of the champion at that flight last year and Norlander part of the runner-up at No. 2 – while senior Alyssa Rahmani and freshman Noor Mahmoud are the top seed at No. 3 and senior Josie Pachla and freshman Jiya Gill are the top seed at No. 4. Norlander’s partner last year, senior Aryasai Radhakrishnan, is part of the third seed at No. 2 and she and Norlander won No. 2 in 2021, while Rahmani was part of the champion at No. 3 in 2021. Sophomore Sophia Grzesiak is the second seed at No. 1 singles after also playing that flight as a freshman.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood: The reigning champion won last season with 37 points – 16 more than the field – and will try to withstand challenges this time with eight seeded flights including three tops seeds and two flights seeded second. Junior Sienna Ilitch is the top seed at No. 3 singles after winning that flight last season and finishing runner-up as a freshman, and junior Olivia Zhang is the top seed at No. 4 also as the reigning champion and runner-up in 2021. Junior Grace Zhang and sophomore Sophia Kouza are top-seeded at No. 2 doubles, Zhang coming off last season’s championship at No. 3 with sophomore Ava Clogg, the fifth seed this time at No. 1 singles. Juniors Daryn Krause and Kayli Lala – who teamed for the No. 4 doubles title last year – are seeded second this time at No. 1
Grand Rapids Christian: The Eagles are seeking their first championship and also looking to break back into the top two for the first time since a third-straight runner-up finish in 2017. They’ve been bolstered substantially by freshman Brynn Uchman, who enters as the top seed at No. 1 singles and 26-0 without reaching a third set this spring. Junior Natalie Poortenga is the top seed at No. 2 for the second-straight season and reached the semifinals a year ago. Five other flights are seeded as well.
Julia Gurne, Portland Notre Dame Prep junior: The third seed at No. 1 singles made the quarterfinals as the third seed last season and was the No. 1 runner-up as a freshman.
Aly Aldrich, Otsego junior: She’s up to the fourth seed at No. 1 singles this weekend after finishing runner-up a year ago as the sixth seed.
LP Division 4 at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan
Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Greenhills, 2. Traverse City St. Francis, 3. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard.
Ann Arbor Greenhills: The Gryphons were champions for the first time since 2017 last season, distancing themselves from the field by nine points, and are in position to repeat with all eight flights seeded first or second and most experienced at the Finals level. Sophomore Maddie Morgan made the semifinals at No. 1 singles last season as a third seed and moves to the top line this weekend, while sophomore Shangyang Xia is the top seed at No. 2 after winning that flight a year ago. Freshman Danica Rakic-Dennis is the top seed at No. 3, and senior Manassa Golapalli is the second seed at No. 4 after finishing runner-up at that flight in 2022. Reigning No. 3 singles champion Sophie Chen has moved to No. 1 doubles as a sophomore and is paired with freshman Lauren Ye as the top seed. Sophomore Sophia Kleer and junior Parini Rao are second-seeded at No. 2 doubles after both were part of runner-up pairs a year ago at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Second-seeded No. 3 pair Meera Tewari and Meera Pandey, both sophomores, are a combo of a reigning No. 4 doubles champ and Rio’s partner at No. 3 last season, respectively, and freshmen Arya Prabhakar and Aoife Tang are debuting at the Finals as the second seed at No. 4.
Traverse City St. Francis: The Gladiators tied for 11th last season but have finished runner-up four times over the last eight years. They’ll make their run this time with four seeded flights including senior Audrey Lee on the top line at No. 4 singles. Only three of 12 starters are seniors, so St. Francis should remain in the hunt moving forward as well.
Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard: The Irish went from unranked to No. 3 in the final poll, and should jump after tying for 13th last season. FGR has only one senior among its starters, but all four singles players are seeded including three in second slots – freshman Jenny Florea at No. 1, senior Vivian Heegan at No. 2 and freshman Kenna Trost at No. 3. Heegan made the quarterfinals last season at No. 1 while unseeded.
Maggie Page, Jackson Lumen Christi senior: She’s returning as the third seed at No. 1 singles after winning a match at that flight last season while unseeded and going 21-1 this season with her only loss to Florea.
Ayva Johnstone, Elk Rapids junior: She’s also back at the top singles flight, this time as the fourth seed after entering as the fifth seed a year ago.
Jadyn Koenes, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian senior: She’s the fifth seed at No. 1 singles after reaching the quarterfinals last season as a sixth seed.
PHOTO Otsego’s Aly Aldrich returns a volley during a match day this spring. (Photo by Gary Shook.)
ESCANABA — The Negaunee Miners have been the measuring stick in Upper Peninsula girls tennis for nearly a decade.
Negaunee, which came into this season as reigning Division 1 champion, has taken the U.P. crown seven of the past nine years. Ishpeming Westwood took the title in 2021.
Negaunee is 11-0-1 after a win over Gwinn on Tuesday. The tie came last week against Escanaba.
"We knew we were going to have a target on our backs," said Miners coach Kyle Saari. "We told the girls they have to be ready for every meet. The target is pretty huge, and I think we were sluggish out of the gate. I don't think we finished particularly well at the net. I think our tradition helps us for sure, although it can be a double-edged sword. We want to keep striving to reach benchmarks and make sure we don't get lackadaisical."
Sophomore Liliana Saunders is 12-0 at No. 2 singles. She was the UPD1 No. 4 single champion as a freshman.
"I'm starting to play my game," Saunders said after her 6-0, 6-1 victory over Escanaba’s Molly VanDamme. "I think I'm controlling the ball pretty well, but I need to work on my net play and improve my serving a little.
“Overall, we have a real strong team. We're pretty close-knit and play a lot over the summer. I think our tradition gives us a lot of confidence going into matches."
Saunders' summer work included a trip in early August to Escanaba, where she earned the age 16-18 title in the 76th Annual Michigan-Wisconsin Open with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Escanaba senior Sophia Derkos.
"I think that really helped me," she said. "She's really a good player. My toughest match this season was against the Westwood girl (sophomore Samantha Ruby). The Gladstone girl (Addy Trombley) is also pretty good."
Derkos – last season’s UPD1 No. 1 singles champion – remained undefeated in five matches after taking a 6-0, 6-1 decision from Negaunee junior Aubrey Johnson at No. 1 singles last week.
"She's a good player, and they're a good team," Derkos said after the match. "This is a big win. I've been waiting to play them and Westwood. Those are the two toughest teams. This is a big confidence boost."
Johnson, last season’s UPD1 runner-up at No. 2 singles, bounced back with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Munising's Bailey Corcoran on Thursday and also won Tuesday, and gave Derkos her due after the Escanaba match.
"Sophia knows what she wants to do," said Johnson. "She plays at a pretty fast pace, and I didn't get to the net as much as I'd like. She's very patient. You can tell she's an experienced player. I can learn from playing against her."
The Miners, as they did in singles, split their four matches with Escanaba in doubles.
Seniors Sage Juntti and Olivia Lumseth are the reigning UPD1 champs at No. 2 doubles, and Kallen Schultz was part of the No. 3 champion last season and is playing No. 1 this fall with Madison Frustaglio, who was part of the 2022 runner-up at their flight.
“We have a very good coach. He always challenges us, so we can get better,” Juntti said. “We do our usual stuff. If it's not good, he just makes us work on it until it is good."
Except for the Escanaba tie and a 5-3 triumph over Westwood, all of the Miners' victories have been shutouts (8-0).
"The biggest part of our success is the girls are supportive of each other," Saari said. "They're all quality kids."
Negaunee's success also has made Escanaba coach Chris Ogren take notice.
"Kyle has been there a long time," he said. "They have one of the most athletic teams, and they're very disciplined. You always have to be ready when you play them.
“We have some good teams up here. You always have to be mentally prepared."
Negaunee hosts Gwinn, Menominee and Marquette before also hosting the Mid-Peninsula Conference tournament Sept. 27.
The U.P. Division 1 Finals will take place Oct. 4 in Marquette.
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTO Negaunee’s Aubrey Johnson serves during her match against Escanaba’s Sophia Derkos on Sept. 13. (Photo by Mitch Vosburg/Escanaba Daily Press.)