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.

Click for full brackets of each flight.

Reigning UPD1 Champ Negaunee Setting Pace Again as Finals Approach

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

September 21, 2023

ESCANABA — The Negaunee Miners have been the measuring stick in Upper Peninsula girls tennis for nearly a decade.

Upper PeninsulaNegaunee, 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 VrancicJohn 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.)