Westwood, Munising Star Shine Again

September 28, 2017

By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half

ISHPEMING – The Westwood girls tennis team has built a dynasty in the Upper Peninsula, and on Wednesday, it added another title to its trophy case.

It wasn’t easy though. After sharing the title with Munising last season, the Patriots had to hold off Iron River West Iron County at the end and edged the Wykons by one point at 17-16 for the Division 2 championship. Westwood has won eight of the last nine U.P. titles in its division.

“This was just a successful year,” Westwood head coach Chris Jackson said. “Heading into this year, we had to replace nine girls and we weren’t sure where we would be. I think most people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year, but we had some girls step up big for us.”

Munising took third at the meet with 10 points followed by Iron Mountain (8) and Ishpeming (5).

Westwood was led by its doubles teams as it won three of the four final matches including a three-set thriller by the tandem of Karlie Kargela and Karlie Patron at No. 1 (7-5, 4-6, 6-4). The Patriots also had two-set wins at both No. 3 with Hailey Mattila and Katelyn Anttila and No. 4 with Ellie Miller and Kaylee Larmour, while West Iron’s Emily Nelson and Avery Bosiek took the No. 2 match.

For West Iron County, it was a disappointing day as the Wykons were in six of the final eight matches but only picked up two victories. West Iron was in a similar situation last season and head coach Joe Serbentas said his team was determined to make up for that this year. However, it just wasn’t meant to be.

“We were disappointed last year, so the girls worked really hard to get back here and they wanted it badly,” Serbentas said. “I thought we really put ourselves in a good spot with seeds today to come out and win.”

On the singles side of the court, it was Munising’s time to shine. The Mustangs won the Nos. 1 and 2 matches thanks to strong performances by the Ackerman sisters, Marissa and Kelsea. Marissa won the No. 1 match over West Iron’s Katarina Serbentas, and Kelsea defeated Iron Mountain’s Jordan Stoner in the No. 2 competition. Marissa hasn’t lost a match in three years.

“Our singles have been the strength of our lineup all year,” Munising head coach Rod Gendron said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough depth today with doubles to win the title, but I’m very proud of how the girls competed. They’ve had some tough matches and on days like this, people are playing their best, so it’s not easy to win.”

Gendron also praised both Ackerman girls and explained how even though they may be related, their styles are completely different on the court.

“They both have a lot of experience and they both have been U.P. champs, so they know what it takes,” he said. “They do not give up no matter what the score is. They keep fighting and they make you earn everything. Marissa is a little more competitive, while Kelsea has nicer strokes. Marissa will do anything to win like throwing lobs or ugly shots while Kelsea is a more classic style player with good strokes and a strong serve. That’s the big difference between the two.”

Westwood and West Iron split the other two matches. West Iron’s Izzy Hoogenboom won the No. 3 match over Munising’s Kennedy Tate, while Westwood’s Tessa Leece took the No. 4 match over West Iron’s Anna Malmquist.

“Tessa hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity this year, and that’s hard as a No. 4 because everyone wants to talk about the No. 1s,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody as composed as Tessa. No matter what the scenario, she maintains her composure, competes at a high level and learns from her mistakes.”

Ishpeming’s lone appearance in the finals was at No. 3 doubles where Audrey Stetson and MaKenzie VanBuren fell to Mattila and Anttila. Even though it wasn’t the day they were hoping for, Hematites head coach Erl Langness saw some positives in his team’s performance.

“We won the spots where we had seeds,” he said. “Madison Pruett had an excellent match against the girl from Munising (Marissa Ackerman) and our No. 1 doubles also had a good day. They lost to West Iron in three sets. It was a pretty good day. We would’ve like to do better, but we did okay. I think we’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of the year.”

In the end though, the day belonged to Westwood. And even though the outcome came down to the wire, Jackson liked it that things turned out that way.

“Close matches like these make the tournament fun,” he said. “It came down to how the finals went, and that’s how it should be.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising's Marissa Ackerman returns a volley during a No. 1 singles match Wednesday at the U.P. Division 2 Finals. (Middle) Westwood's Karlie Kargela returns a shot at No. 1 doubles. (Photos by Rachel Oakley.) 

Seaholm Breaks Free From 3-Way Tie to Win 4 Flights, Clinch Team Title

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 3, 2023

MIDLAND – A Lower Peninsula Girls Tennis Final has never finished with a three-way tie at the top – yet Birmingham Seaholm, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central all entered Saturday’s Division 2 flight semifinals with 22 points at Midland Tennis Center.

But with stellar play from its doubles teams, Seaholm won its first title since 2018, ending Forest Hills Northern’s Finals streak at three championships with 32 points to the Huskies’ 27. Forest Hills Central tied for runner-up, also with 27.

Seaholm’s first flight champion came from the No. 4 doubles tandem of junior Stella North and freshman Lucy Jen, the top seeds. They defeated Maggie Moog and Clare Knoester of Forest Hills Northern, 6-0, 6-4.

“We came out and dominated the first set,’’ said North. “In the second set, we had kind of a slow start.’’

“Then they adjusted to what we were doing, and we had to adjust,’’ said Jen. “We have a great tennis community at Seaholm. We’re a family and we have so many girls come out.’’

Added North: “I’m so happy for Lucy. She had to go through so much to make the team. We had tryouts and we played two days a week. We were the top team in our conference, so there was some pressure.’’

Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman volleys on the way to winning the No. 1 singles flight.Seaholm kept the momentum going winning the No. 2 doubles title with Katie Slazinski and Jenna Ting defeating Ava Hamilton and Lauren Jaklitsch of FHN, 6-3, 6-1.

“We had played them before with an alternate, so we hadn’t played that exact team,’’ said Slazinski. “I feel like we were in control. We were playing our way.’’

“We got up 3-0 in the first set, which was big,’’ said Ting. “We kind of dropped slightly, but we regrouped and got fired up.’’

Seaholm added another flight championship with the No. 3 doubles team of senior Sydney Fong and sophomore Jordyn Lusky downing Forest Hills Central’s Veronica Vincent and Ella Hunnewell, 6-2, 6-1.

“Jordyn has been great,’’ said Fong. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. We played them before, so we knew what to expect. We had a plan. We took notes and executed what would thought were our strengths and their weaknesses. Our coaches do a great job.’’

Seaholm scored a championship at No. 2 singles as well, as Courtney Marcum outlasted Anna Dinsmore of Portage Central, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, in that final.

Forest Hills Central junior Lily Ohlman, second-seeded at No. 1 singles, made school history in getting past top-seeded Helania Pietrowsky of Grosse Pointe North 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

“I have been dreaming about this for a year,’’ said Ohlman, fighting back tears. “When she was having trouble keeping the ball in play, I just said keep the ball in play. In the second set, I started missing shots and my coach reminded me to just keep the ball in play. I just thank God.

“I’m the first (girls) singles champ in school history. This is so amazing.’’

Forest Hills Northern’s Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie celebrate their championship at No. 1 doubles. Portage Central freshman Adelie Chen captured the No. 3 singles title over Jada Josifovski of Seaholm, 7-5, 6-4.

“After the semifinals, I didn’t think I could do it, but my teammates believed in me," said Chen.

In the battle of freshmen at No. 4 singles, FHN’s Harriet Ogilvie defeated Chloe Cox of FHC, 6-1, 6-2.

“I really like her as a player and a person,’’ said Ogilvie. “I had played her before, so I know her tendencies. I started executing what I needed to do and was able to keep the points coming and build some momentum. This is the end of a great season for me.’’

Forest Hills Northern’s No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie kept Seaholm from sweeping doubles by defeating Tatum Hirsch and Ellie Wyzykowski 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.

First-year Huskies coach Steven Olson had to make a tough decision during a No. 2 singles semifinal, retiring his player Andrea Wang as she faced off with Marcum.

The two were tied at one set apiece – Wang won the first 6-1 and Marcum the second 7-6 – and Marcum was winning the third 5-1. But Wang’s right ankle was injured so badly she could barely move.

“She won the first set pretty quick,’’ said Olson. “She wouldn’t quit. I asked her to, and she wouldn’t. She’s a competitor, and she has a lot of pride. She’s only a sophomore.’’

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Birmingham Seaholm’s Courtney Marcum fires a backhand during a No. 2 singles match Saturday at Midland Tennis Center. (Middle) Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman volleys on the way to winning the No. 1 singles flight. (Below) Forest Hills Northern’s Ryan Morey and Paige McKenzie celebrate their championship at No. 1 doubles. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)