Quick Study Becomes Three-Time Champ

October 18, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

At the end of every fall, Escanaba native Denny Lueneberg heads back to California after another summer in his hometown and fall coaching the Eskymos girls tennis team.

A tennis instructor in Palm Springs who played at Western Michigan University, he’s seen plenty of talented players over the decades. So his final thought to Escanaba senior Codi Jenshak before he departed this month was especially meaningful.

Lueneberg told Jenshak he used to consider her a softball player who also plays tennis – which made sense, since Jenshak pitched the Eskymos to the Division 2 Quarterfinals this spring.

But after this fall, Lueneberg said he now sees Jenshak as a tennis player who plays softball – a seal of lasting approval on a career that included three MHSAA singles championships, including MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 titles at No. 1 the last two seasons.

“I felt like I finally had done what I needed to do, for him to think that,” Jenshak said. “He takes tennis very seriously. He always thinks no one could ever play enough. He has pretty high expectations.

“When he told me that, it was just special.”

Jenshak receives a Second Half High 5 for repeating as the best player in the Upper Peninsula Division 1. And as a sophomore, she won the title at No. 2 singles.

As a freshman, Jenshak played mostly No. 4 doubles. After all, she was just starting to learn the game.

Jenshak had played for fun and attended one of Lueneberg’s beginner clinics when she was young. But nothing serious – until Lueneberg saw her hitting with her dad one summer and encouraged Codi to come out for the high school team.

He knew he could teach her the shots. What caught his eye was how she reacted to and pursued the ball, like a softball infielder making a play.

After a mostly uneventful freshman year, Jenshak lost a close match to start her sophomore season and then beat the same player handily in the MHSAA Final. She split four matches with Kingsford’s Sam Fleming as a junior, but beat her when it counted – in the championship match.

This season she beat Fleming all five times they faced each other, including 6-1, 6-2 in the Final, and finished 18-2 overall. Her losses were to Iron River West Iron County’s Kylee Erickson, the U.P. Division 2 champion – Jenshak finished 1-2 against her this season.

Jenshak did beat Erickson in their first meeting, but then lost to her four days later. Jenshak didn’t speak much with Lueneberg for three days after that – and that hammered home again how seriously she took her “other” sport.

“She processes things. I don’t know where that came from … but you can explain things or maybe try to do things with her in tennis that other players are not capable of doing in terms of strategy and shot selection,” Lueneberg said. “She’s willing to do that. It cost her a couple of matches her junior year, but by the end of the year she was doing those things and becoming a better player. … (And) by no means has she reached her potential.”

Jenshak also plays basketball, and sees crossovers among all of her sports.

She picked up tennis quickly, just as she’s been able to pick up other sports. She has a similar point in both her overhand throwing and serving motions where her arm slows down. The lateral movement she uses as an occasional second basemen is similar to that employed on the tennis court or even defending a basketball opponent.

Her strengths and weaknesses correlate for all three. She uses the same steady work ethic to fix the bad and hone the good.

Girls tennis is played in the spring in the Lower Peninsula, so Jenshak hasn’t gotten a chance to see how she’d compare against top players from downstate. She did get that chance in softball, leading her team before it fell to eventual Division 2 runner-up Saginaw Swan Valley in the Quarter at Central Michigan.

“I’m actually pretty curious. I played a lot of softball in lower Michigan, played a lot in Wisconsin and Illinois and other places, so I can see where my talent stacks up against other people,” Jenshak said. “But in tennis I can’t. We don’t get out as much. … I’d love to see how we would stack up. We just never got the opportunity.”

She might get a better gauge next season if she decides on a small college – she’s received interest at that level for both sports, and is considering playing both. Or she might go to Central Michigan and attempt to walk-on the softball team and play on the school’s club tennis team.

“If she wanted to commit to this sport, she has the skills and the athletic ability. She’ll obviously get better and enjoy the game at a different level,” Lueneberg said of Jenshak's tennis potential.

“Usually it’s a summer thing, and we try to get the most out of them. Once in a while we get an athlete like Codi, and we try to develop them. Someone special comes along every once in a while."

PHOTO: Escanaba's Codi Jenshak returns a volley during a match earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of RRNsports.com)

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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