Preview: History-Making Opportunities

May 29, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Every athlete playing in this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals will achieve a notable feat, be it personal or for her school.

But Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Alexandria Najarian could finish Saturday at Kalamazoo College among the most accomplished players in MHSAA history.

Najarian is playing in Division 3 for her fourth No. 1 singles championship. Only two others – Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Dawn Martin from 1985-88 and Detroit Country Day’s Kendra Howard from 1990-93 – have won No. 1 singles titles all four years of high school.

Najarian’s storyline will be one of many to follow this weekend, with coverage of all four Finals publishing on Second Half later Saturday evening. Below is a brief look at top contenders at each tournament, with play beginning Friday morning. Click for more including brackets and seeds for all 32 flights.

DIVISION 1 at Midland Tennis Center

Top ranked: 1. Grosse Pointe South, 2. Clarkston, 3. Northville.

Grosse Pointe South is favored to win its second MHSAA championship in three seasons after tying for third a year ago with Clarkston, which tied for second in 2012 and won the title in 2011. Northville is seeking its first MHSAA girls tennis championship and finished fifth last season.

Grosse Pointe South: All but one flight is seeded fifth or higher, with three doubles pairs seeded among the top two of their respective flights. And the unseeded is No. 2 singles player Madie Flournoy, last season’s champion at No. 4. Brooke Willard, a semifinalist at No. 2 singles last season, is the fourth seed at No. 3 this weekend, and 2013 No. 3 singles runner-up Maggie Sweeney is now part of the fifth-seeded No. 1 doubles pair with Samantha Perry. Raven Neely is a contender at No. 1 singles entering as the third seed.

Clarkston: The Wolves’ strength again is singles, with all four flights entering this weekend seeded first or second. Last season’s No. 1 singles runner-up Lexi Baylis is the top seed at that flight and won No. 2 in both 2011 and 2012. Reigning No. 2 runner-up Isabella Spindler and reigning No. 3 champion Dana Olsen are second seeds at those flights, respectively. Paige Olsen – part of last season’s runner-up at No. 1 doubles and the No. 3 singles champion in 2012 – is the second seed at No. 2 singles. Her partner last season, Alex Whall, is teaming with Katie Hubregsen as the fourth-seeded pair at No. 1 doubles.

Bloomfield Hills: Although ranked No. 4 entering the postseason, Bloomfield Hills looks like a contender and brings tournament experience with Andover taking fourth and Lahser tying for sixth in Division 2 in 2013 (those schools merged last summer). The Black Hawks are seeded at all but one flight, with Mollie Fox – last season’s Division 2 No. 1 singles champ – seeded fifth in the top flight. Kerry Hu – the No. 1 singles runner-up for Andover in Division 2 in 2012 – is the third-seeded player this weekend at No. 2. Meryl Reams was the Division 2 No. 4 champion last season and is seeded fifth in that flight.

Utica’s Davina Nguyen: The 2012 No. 1 singles champion fell in the semifinals last season but is expected to get at least that far again entering this weekend as the second seed.

Port Huron Northern’s Lizzie Brozovich: Despite beating Spindler in straight sets in last season’s No. 2 singles championship match, Brozovich returns as only the sixth seed in the flight this weekend.

Midland Dow’s Caroline Szabo: Dow has the top seeds at Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles, with Szabo at No. 2 expected to finish her freshman season as a champion.

Port Huron Northern’s Alexis Wirth and Fran Basha: Northern’s top-seeded pair at No. 1 doubles gave up only one set – and then one game in the championship match – in winning this flight in 2013.

Other returning flight champions: Farmington Hills Mercy’s Mackenzie Zierau (No. 2 doubles in 2013, part of No. 1 doubles with Clara Pilchak this season), Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Alyssa Roopas and Evie Vandewege (No. 3 doubles in 2013 and No. 4 doubles in 2012; No. 1 doubles this season), Northville’s Libby Quinn (No. 4 doubles in 2013, part of third-seeded No. 4 doubles with Chloe Page this season).

DIVISION 2 at Holland

Top ranked: 1. Birmingham Seaholm, 2. Bloomfield Hills Marian, 3. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern.

One of these three has won Division 2 each of the last 11 seasons, with Marian the returning champ, Seaholm the winner in 2012 and Forest Hills Northern  finishing first in 2011. Seaholm was last season’s runner-up, with Forest Hills Northern finishing third.

Birmingham Seaholm: The Maples enter the weekend with five top seeds, including at three singles flights. All four singles players are back from last season – Labina Petrovska is the top seed at No. 1, Lauren Frazier is seeded second at No. 2, reigning runner-up Claire Markley is the top seed at No. 3 and Rachel Fenberg is the top seed at No. 4. The two doubles pairs that aren’t top seeds have championship experience – Jackie Meier is back at No. 1, this time with Laine Boitos, after Meier helped win No. 1 last season and Boitos was part of the runner-up at No. 2. Sam Lareau is playing No. 2 doubles with Caity Buechner after helping win the No. 4 doubles title in 2013.

Bloomfield Hills Marian: The Mustangs are seeded at all but No. 1 singles, and that unseeded player, Lauren Dietz, was the No. 2 singles runner-up a year ago. Reigning No. 3 champ Breann Lunghamer moved up to No. 2 and is the fourth seed, and reigning No. 4 runner-up Catherine Yaldoo moved up to No. 3 and is seeded third at that flight. All four doubles flights are seeded third or higher, with Tatyanna Dadabbo moving up to No. 1 to pair with Biance Emde after Dadabbo helped win the No. 2 doubles title a year ago and Emde was part of the pair that made the semis at No. 3.

Forest Hills Northern: All flights are seeded, with three in the top spot and another second. Victoria Minzlaff helped finish runner-up at No. 1 doubles last season and is part of the top-seeded pair this time with last season’s No. 2 singles player, Jessica Stevens. (Minzlaff was part of champions at No. 1 in 2012 and No. 4 in 2011.) Stephanie Nguyen, part of last season’s No. 3 doubles champion, is part of the top-seeded No. 2 pair with Hailey Jones. Madeline Bissett is the top seed at No. 2 singles after winning No. 3 in Division 3 as a freshman at Forest Hills Eastern two years ago (and finishing runner-up at No. 2 in Division 3 last season), and Claire Aleck is back at No. 1 singles and seeded second in that flight.

Fenton’s Madison Ballard: This season’s third seed at No. 1 singles won two matches at last season’s Final after entering unseeded.

Okemos’ Emily Struble: The champion at No. 2 singles the last two seasons is playing No. 1 this weekend and enters seeded fifth.  

East Grand Rapids’ Jeanie Weinrich and Bridget Barrett: The Pioneers’ third-seeded No. 1 doubles pair is made up of half of last season’s pair (Weinrich) and last season’s No. 1 singles player (Barrett).

DIVISION 3 at Kalamazoo College

Top ranked: 1. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, 2. Detroit Country Day, 3. Allegan

Cranbrook-Kingswood is looking to extend a three-season winning streak and finish among the top two for the seventh straight year. The Cranes scored 39 points a year ago, with Allegan second at 23 and Country Day third at 19. Country Day, in 2010, was the last team to win before this run.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood: The Cranes have top seeds at six flights and the fourth seeds at the remaining two. Najarian’s history-making opportunity is detailed above, and No. 2 singles Anna Short also is a reigning champion. Briana Latica and Holly Meers were the No. 3 doubles champions last season and are playing this weekend at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and Lauren Lanzon and Emily Harvey won the No. 4 doubles title a year ago; Harvey is playing No. 3 singles and Lanzon No. 3 doubles. Meg Phyle was part of last season’s No. 1 doubles runner-up and is top-seeded at that flight with Amanda Simmons.

Detroit Country Day: Seven flights are seeded, led by a strong singles lineup. Madelyn Karoub is looking to finish her career with a third MHSAA singles title and is the top seed at No. 3. Haley Mullins was runner-up at No. 3 last season and is seeded second at No. 2, and Sarah Carroll was runner-up at No. 4 last season and is seeded second at that flight. 

Allegan: The Tigers also are seeded at seven flights, with all four singles players fourth seeds or higher and a pair of strong doubles teams leading the way. Emmarie Gorby and Blake Day are the fourth seed at No. 1 doubles after finishing runner-up at No. 2 a year ago. Carlie Vanklompenberg and Taylor Orr are the top seed at No. 2 doubles after finishing runner-up at No. 3 a year ago.

Holland Christian’s Lisa Busscher and Anna Bosgraaf: Last season’s No. 4 doubles runners-up are seeded third at No. 2 this weekend.

Williamston’s Sara Daavettila: Playing high school tennis for the first time, Daavettila is the second seed at No. 1 singles and could give Najarian an interesting run if both make the championship match.

Williamston’s Caitlyn Chick and Delaney Nikolai: Although unseeded at No. 1 doubles, this pair was the runner-up at No. 1 in Division 4 last season.

DIVISION 4 at Grand Blanc/Holly

Top ranked: 1. Grosse Ile, 2. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 3. Traverse City St. Francis

Grosse Ile, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Traverse City St. Francis all are seeking their first MHSAA girls tennis championships. Grosse Ile finished just three points back of champion Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart last season, with St. Francis third and Gabriel Richard tied for fourth. Academy of the Sacred Heart, champion the last two seasons, is ranked No. 4.

Grosse Ile: The Red Devils are seeded at every flight with three top seeds and No. 4 doubles runners-up Rose Tucker and Casey Guthrie returning among favorites. Reigning No. 2 singles champion Brianne Riley is the sixth seed at No. 1, and reigning No. 3 runner-up Julia Formentin is the second seed at No. 2. Katherine Kuzmiak was part of the No. 2 doubles runner-up last season and is teaming with Luna Terauchi on the top-seeded pair at No. 3 this weekend.

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard: The Fighting Irish are seeded at only four flights, but have the favorites at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, with top seeds Colleen O’Brien and Maddy Szuba. O’Brien was the No. 1 runner-up last season and the No. 2 champion in 2012 (playing for Greenhills), while Szuba made the semis at No. 3 last season.

Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart: The Gazelles appear in a slightly better position to earn points than Traverse City St. Francis with six seeds to St. Francis’ five and three among the top four seeds in their respective flights. Tate Lehmann is the third seed at No. 3 singles after winning No. 4 a year ago, while the team’s second-seeded pair at No. 1 doubles is a mix of Sarah Spangler from last season’s No. 2 champion and Gretchen Lemon from last season’s winner at No. 4. Kendall Lehmann is part of the fifth-seeded pair at No. 2 doubles, with Stella Betrus, after helping win the title at No. 3 in 2013.

Berrien Springs’ Arien Kissinger: The senior has won four matches at No. 1 singles as an unseeded player the last three seasons, but enters her last Finals as the second seed at this flight.

Kalamazoo Christian’s Audrey Bouma and Jessica Bouma: Last season’s champion at No.3 singles, Audrey, is the top seed in that flight, while Jessica is the third seed at No. 2 singles and won No. 3 in 2011.

Lansing Catholic’s Calla Ramont: The No. 3 singles champion in 2012 won a match at No. 1 last season and comes into this weekend as the third seed at the top flight.

Ludington’s Gabrielle and Stephanie Kelly: The sisters have teamed up at No. 1 doubles the last two seasons, winning a match at the 2013 Final and entering this one as the top seed.

PHOTO: Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Alexandria Najarian, here playing in the No. 1 singles championship match at the 2012 LP Division 3 Final, will play for her fourth No. 1 singles title. (Click to see more at

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1