Titles for Three at UP Tennis Finals
October 4, 2012
One of this season’s MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 girls tennis champions is used to finishing at the top. The other found itself in that favorable spot Wednesday for the first time in 25 years.
Kingsford and Negaunee split this season’s title, each scoring 14 points at Marquette High School. The Finals win was the first for Kingsford since the end of a four-year championship run in 2009. Negaunee celebrated its first championship since winning Class C-D in 1987, and after just missing with a runner-up finish in 2010.
Kingsford advanced players into all four singles and two doubles championship matches, with No. 4 singles Santina Bianco and No. 2 doubles Janay Walters and Ali VanRemortel claiming their flights. Negaunee advanced to five championship matches and had three winners – Allison Carlson at No. 2 singles, Kayla Hakala at No. 3 and Kylee Taavola and Jordyn LaFreniere at No. 3 doubles.
Escanaba senior Codi Jenshak won her second-straight championship at No. 1 singles, and third MHSAA singles title overall, with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Kingsford’s Sam Fleming. Jenshak also defeated Fleming in the 2011 championship match.
Her Escanaba teammates Braedyn Bosilovatz and Cathryn Wood won the No. 1 doubles championship.
Click for full championship match results and semifinalists.
Division 2 at Ishpeming Westwood
Westwood won its fourth straight MHSAA championship and fifth in six seasons, scoring 16 points to edge runner-up Iron Mountain by two.
The Patriots won four flights, led at No. 1 doubles by Kara Harrington and Alexis Forchini, who won at No. 3 in 2011. Taryn Moyle and Katie Rankinen won at No. 2 and Rachel Anderson and Shana Caliguri won at No. 4. Courtney Beauchamp won the team’s lone singles championship, at No. 4.
Iron River West Iron County’s Kylee Erickson repeated as the No. 1 singles champion, beating Westwood’s Sarah Massie in the final for the second straight season.
Team of the Month: Negaunee Girls Tennis
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 21, 2022
The Negaunee girls tennis team’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals championship won Sept. 28 was its seventh over the last 10 seasons, to go with runner-up finishes the three seasons the Miners didn’t win it all during that time.
So when coach Kyle Saari says this year’s team stands out among them, that’s actually saying quite a lot.
And what all of it says about his program is pretty defining as well.
Negaunee is the fifth-biggest tennis school in the Upper Peninsula, but with an enrollment count of 414 has about 700 fewer students than Marquette and even about 235 fewer than the second-biggest tennis school, Escanaba.
And yet, the program may be on its way to getting even stronger coming off this season’s championship, won with 19 points and flight championships at Nos. 3 and 4 singles and Nos. 2 and 3 doubles and earning Negaunee tennis the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” honor for September.
“We’ve been fortunate, really beyond the (last) decade, to just get solid groups of athletes out that want to compete. I think what happened, on the girls side anyway, is when we won our first Division 1 title in 2012, the next group that comes in wants to leave their mark and wants to do a little more,” Saari said. “When you have a solid group of leaders throughout the course of the last decade, it’s contagious with the freshmen and even trickles down to the middle school too.”
That might sound like an understatement given the success of the middle school tennis program last year, it’s first. More than 100 students attended, and the middle school has only about 450-500. The tennis program was for only sixth, seventh and eighth graders – so it’s fair to put an estimate at roughly 25 percent of the community’s middle schoolers had a racket in their hands.
They have plenty of standouts to look up to, as both Finals singles champions were freshmen and both doubles pairs finished the fall undefeated. Together, those six players are among 10 total starters who should be back next season. Negaunee will graduate only No. 1 singles Jordan Enright and No. 1 doubles Stella Harris.
Harris and sophomore Madison Frustaglio finished runner-up at the Final, and with No. 2 champs Olivia Lunseth and Sage Juntti and No. 3 winners Kallen Schultz and Madalynn Peters gave the Miners a comfortable predicament in August as Saari believed all six were capable of playing the No. 1 flight. As they powered to titles, Paytin Brunette and Autumn Ring finished out the strong doubles lineup with a runner-up Finals finish at No. 4.
On the singles side, the freshmen pair of Rheana Nelson at No. 3 and Lilliana Saunders at No. 4 anchored like veterans, joining No. 2 singles runner-up Aubrey Johnson and Enright at the top as all eight flights scored at least one point at the championship tournament.
Negaunee finished 13-0-1 in dual matches this fall, that lone tie coming midway through the season against more experienced Iron Mountain. The Mountaineers were on the cusp of victory when Nelson stepped in to seize the tie-saving point.
She and Saunders, because of their inexperience, carried some uncertainty entering this season. They also ended up major reasons why this championship team will continue to stick out among the many the program has celebrated.
“We felt pretty good about two freshmen stepping into our singles lineup. We knew they were athletic, and we knew they were high-character kids,” Saari said. “But at the same time, under pressure at the end of the year, you don’t know how they’re going to react.
“Those are two (singles) titles, as time has really went on, it’s put into perspective how special those two flights were for us.”