Sacred Heart, Moyer Cap Familiar Climb

June 2, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

NOVI – This might have been the third time in her four-year high school career that Kalamazoo Hackett senior Natalie Moyer was in this spot.

But that doesn’t mean nerves still weren’t a factor when she advanced to the No. 1 singles championship match at the MHSAA Division 4 Finals on Saturday.

“At first I was a little nervous and was playing like I was nervous,” Moyer said. “I just kind of calmed down and played with confidence. Just played my game.”

Moyer definitely did that against Taylor Smith of Jackson Lumen Christi, surviving the first set with a 6-4 win before rolling to a 6-0 win in the second to claim her second Finals championship.

As a sophomore, Moyer won the title at No. 2 singles, but it was another match that was most on her mind Saturday.

Last season, Moyer lost in the championship match at No. 1 singles to Smith by scores of 6-2, 6-2, something that fueled Moyer all offseason and throughout an unbeaten regular season that saw her enter this weekend as the No. 1 seed at the flight (Smith was No. 2).

“I was really motivated to get the state title this year,” said Moyer, who will play in college at Xavier University. “That’s what I wanted all season.”

While Moyer ruled the day individually, the team portion of the tournament belonged to a traditional power.

It felt weird for Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart to not win the crown last season after winning it all four of the previous five years. But Sacred Heart easily returned to the top perch in the state.

The Gazelles scored 32 points, seven ahead of Traverse City St. Francis and 12 ahead of Jackson Lumen Christi, the top-ranked team heading into the tournament.

Sacred Heart entered the postseason ranked No. 2, but coach Judy Hehs said that didn’t provide her team any extra motivation.

“We don’t talk about the rankings,” Hehs said. “We play a really tough schedule, and we don’t understand what it means to play Division 4 schools. They know the Catholic League and they know the independent schools. When we get here, 50 percent of the teams, they don’t know. We don’t talk about rankings.”

Sacred Heart saw Reagan Beatty win the flight title at No. 3 singles with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Taylor Kennedy of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, and the Gazelles dominated the doubles portion of the competition winning all four flights.

Sara Gerard and Annie Keating at No. 1 doubles, Nolwenn Crosnier and Kelleigh Keating at No. 2, Kathryn Monahan and Serena Seneker at No. 3 and the team of Hannah Kakos and Kate Myers and No. 4 doubles all brought home flight championships.

“Every flight on this team this year did what they had to do,” Hehs said. “Everyone contributed.”

Maggie Ketels of Hackett won the title at No. 2 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Oriana Gulvesan of Ann Arbor Greenhills, and Paige Davies of St. Francis won the No. 4 singles title with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Hannah Hodgson of Monroe St. Mary.

In search of its first MHSAA Finals team title in this sport, St. Francis finished as the runner-up for the third time in four years – but this year had a more uplifting feel to it than the others.

“We feel really good about it,” Gladiators coach Paul Bandrowski said. “We were 16th last year, and we lost a lot of seniors. We came back and jumped from 16th all the way back to second. We have a lot of young players.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Hackett's Natalie Moyer fires a shot during her No. 1 singles Quarterfinal. (Middle) Academy of the Sacred Heart's Reagan Beatty volleys during a No. 3 singles match for the eventual team champion. (Click to see more from

Senior-Dominated Iron Mountain Soars to UPD2 Finals Repeat

By Steve Brownlee
Special for

September 30, 2022

ISHPEMING — There was both a single reason and a singles reason why Iron Mountain won the championship at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 Girls Tennis Finals played at Westwood High School on Thursday.

The difference is subtle — just a single letter “s” — but rings true both ways.

It was easy to see what the Mountaineers’ secret was — sweep the titles at every singles flight while adding one more in doubles just to be on the safe side.

IM finished with 19 points, while Ishpeming outdueled West Iron County in several late finals to eke out second place by one point, 14 to 13.

Gwinn posted five points to take fourth, while Munising had four, Norway one and Ironwood did not score.

Mountaineers coach Marcus Celello credited senior leadership for the team’s repeat championship.

“We have eight seniors on our team, including all four of our regular singles players and both our No. 1 doubles players, along with one each on Nos. 3 and 4 doubles,” the IM coach said.

He noted that all those singles flights were winners with the team’s championship in doubles also coming with the pair of seniors at No. 1.

“We won this last year and returned our core, so I knew we would at least be very competitive this year,” Celello said. “We won or tied every dual meet this season.”

He said that included a 4-4 tie against eventual U.P. Division 1 champion Negaunee to give the Miners the only blemish on their dual-meet record this fall.

“But sometimes when you haven’t faced adversity, it can be scary,” the coach continued. “You don’t always know how you’re going to react.”

The Iron Mountain and Ishpeming No. 2 doubles pairs face off during a semifinal. No. 2 singles player Aziza Burgoon — of course, a senior — completed an undefeated season by winning a marathon final over WIC’s Seanna Stine,  7-5, 7-5.

IM also got singles titles from No. 3 Natalia Brown and No. 4 Rediet Husing, along with a doubles championship from No. 1 Elle Lofholm and Anja Kleiman.

But the biggest cheers and shrieks came after IM finished its singles sweep when No. 1 Callie Bianco pulled off a 6-4, 6-4 win over Gwinn’s Miaha Schiefel.

Schiefel led 4-2 in the second set looking to force a deciding third before Bianco won the final four games.

“I just was trying to stay focused, work the ball and follow through,” Bianco said. “And maybe the most important thing was to be patient, not panic.

“I’m known for being an impatient player. When I’m on, I like to be aggressive, but I know that when I’m not on, I have to focus on being patient.”

Asked if she was “on” Thursday, she was emphatic with her “Yes I was!”

One coach trying to be patient but excited for next season is Ishpeming’s Kaitlin Rich, who watched her junior-laden team set the groundwork for a big season next fall.

“We’ve already made a big improvement from last year,” she said. “I’m proud of how hard our girls have worked to make that improvement.

“Half of our players are dual-sport athletes, which means they’re playing another sport this fall, too, so they really have to balance their workload.”

The Hematites carted off one championship, one of the last finishing finals matches at No. 3 doubles when Kaitlyn VanDeuren and Paige Palomaki had to win a third-set tiebreaker to defeat WIC’s Bailey Hoffart and Aubrey Richardson 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1).

That result decided the runner-up position team-wise as a Wykons’ win would’ve reversed their point totals and places in the standings.

“We had five finalists, at Nos. 3 and 4 singles and Nos. 1, 2 and 3 doubles,” Rich said. “We return nine of our juniors next year, so I’m really looking forward to next year. I think we should be ready to make a run at the U.P.’s (title) next year.

“Kaitlyn and Paige, those two by far are the most improved players from last year,” the Ishpeming coach added.

Gwinn’s Miaha Schiefel returns a volley at No. 1 singles. WIC veteran coach Joe Serbentas was philosophical after his players won a pair of doubles titles, at No. 2 with sisters Autumn Smith and Kaitlyn Smith and at No. 4 with Destiny Lemery and Olivia Lamay.

“We’ve played well at the U.P.’s the last five or six years, but we also seemed to come up that point short,” he said. “Iron Mountain is so senior-loaded, you just knew that they were the big favorites today.

“We had a 5-7-1 record in dual meets, but we play a lot of the best teams in the U.P., so I still think that’s pretty good.”

Gwinn made a run at a U.P. flight championship for the first time in a number of years with Schiefel at No. 1 singles, much to her coach’s delight.

“She has such a passion for the sport, and she’s such an avid athlete,” Modeltowners coach Darcia Mattson said. “She runs track and is a phenomenal basketball player. She trains at AdvantEdge (athletic training facility in Marquette).

“She used to play tennis against her brother, Jared Rolland.

“And she’s not a big girl at all, but her heart is twice as big as she is.”

PHOTOS (Top) The Iron Mountain and Ishpeming No. 2 doubles pairs face off during a semifinal. (Middle) Anja Kleiman gets a racket on the ball during her and partner Elle Lofholm’s match at No. 1 doubles. (Below) Gwinn’s Miaha Schiefel returns a volley at No. 1 singles. (Photos by Steve Brownlee.)