Westwood Runs Title Streak to 5
October 2, 2013
By Craig Remsburg
Special to Second Half
ISHPEMING — His team has now won five straight MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 championships. But coach Chris Jackson isn’t about to call his Ishpeming Westwood High School girls tennis program a dynasty.
“We just have good player participation,” he said after his Patriots totaled 14 points to beat runner-up Iron Mountain by one Wednesday. “This is the biggest ‘team’ victory out of all of them, though.”
West Iron County placed third with 10 points followed by Ishpeming (7), Ironwood (6), Munising (4) and Gwinn (1).
“I’m just drained,” Jackson said. “This was the most tense finals out of all of them.”
Westwood’s No. 3 doubles team of Lacey Pietro and Olivia Derocher, its No. 4 doubles tandem of Emily Carlson and Jamee Ferris, and Rachel Anderson at No. 4 singles all won titles.
Jackson said his No. 4 doubles unit, which rallied to knock off Hannah Hakamaki and Grace Hansen of Iron Mountain by a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 count, was a key to the win.
“They were our last group on the court. If they win, we win by one point,” he said. “They were down 5-2 in the second set and won 7-5, In one stretch, they won 10 of 11 games.”
Anderson added a No. 4 singles crown to her resume after winning at No. 4 doubles last season.
“At first, I was shaky,” she said of her 6-3, 6-0 win over Jessie Prudhomme of West Iron. “But after a few games, I got into my rhythm.
“It was great to be a No. 4 doubles champ, but this one is better because I did it on my own.”
Jackson said his team’s victory came from other factors as well.
“Our No. 3 doubles are both seniors and got our finals started,” Jackson said. “It was our first finals win (of the day).
“Megan Chapman got into the semis and got us a point, and Caitlin Hewitt (at No. 2 doubles with Gabby Hebert) picked up points playing with a leg injury. Caitlin had been playing No. 1 singles until her injury three weeks ago. She was able to contribute at No. 2 doubles, and it’s a case of a senior sacrificing for the better of the team.”
Iron Mountain claimed wins at No. 1 singles with Katie Brule, No. 2 singles with Olivia Truscott and No. 2 doubles with twins Katie and Emily Bugni.
“It was a very hard match,” Brule said of her 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over Ironwood’s Katie Piispanen. “She hit the ball well, placed it well and made me run. But my overheads were good and so were my serves.
“I stayed consistent in the tiebreaker and didn’t get frustrated. I felt better about things after winning that.” she added, noting she won a U.P. title at No. 2 singles in 2012.
Truscott, meanwhile, beat Jaime Olson of Ishpeming, 6-0, 6-4.
“My ball placement was good, my serves were ‘on’ today and I came to the net a lot,” Truscott said. “(Olson) hits everything back to you and my approach shots had to be good. I just had to attack.
“In the second set,” Truscott added, “I had to slow it down and just try to get my shots in.”
Said Iron Mountain coach Greg Stegall: “Olivia’s a sophomore with a good work ethic. She’s a competitor.”
The Mountaineers’ Bugni sisters, who won a peninsula crown at No. 3 doubles last season, knocked off Westwood’s Hebert and Hewitt, 6-1, 6-3.
“We had to get each other’s confidence up. Those (Westwood) girls are good,” said Emily, 45 minutes older than her twin.
Added Kate: “We hit the ball well, and communicated well. I was also good at the net.”
Iron Mountain placed second to Westwood last year by two points.
“It seems to be our scenario: we come up one match short of making everyone happy,” Stegall said. “It’s disappointing to come up one point short.
“But I have a good group of sophomores — five are coming back. It’s a pleasure to work with them.”
Ironwood’s Rachel Pallin and Danielle Begalle defeated Adelle Gendron and Alex Paquette of Munising, 6-4, 7-5, at No. 1 doubles.
“We had to fight for it,” Begalle said. “This was only our second time playing together.
Added Pallin: “We took our time and placed our shots well. We weren’t rushing.
“What a way to end our senior year. This was (coach Annette Burchell’s) first time with a flight winner in the U.P. Finals (in her 10 years of coaching).”
Click for full championship match results.
PHOTOS: (Top) Westwood's Rachel Anderson returns the ball to her West Iron County opponent during their championship match. (Middle) Iron Mountain’s Katie Brule runs to return the ball to her Ironwood opponent during a championship match of the Upper Peninsula Division 2 Finals on Wednesday. (Photos by Adelle Whitefoot for Second Half.)
Cranbrook Enjoys Slight Edge This Time in Rematch of Frequent Contenders
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
June 3, 2023
ANN ARBOR — There’s not a lot of difference between the tennis teams from Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Detroit Country Day.
Certainly not on the scoreboard; the teams tied for the Regional title last month, and Cranbrook edged Country Day 33-31 on Saturday to repeat as Lower Peninsula Division 3 champion at the University of Michigan.
And there’s also little difference in the minds of Cranbrook coach Grant Asher and Country Day mentor Jessica Stencel.
“We deserved second today," Stencel said. “They were definitely the mentally-tougher team. And maybe if the tournament was held tomorrow, it might have been different. But it really came down to if we would have taken one different flight, then it would have been a tie. We just had too many loose spots we couldn’t figure out.”
And the Cranes made the most of those opportunities.
“We knew it was going to be really tough,” Asher said. “We were evenly matched, but the girls played the big points really well and handled the pressure of the state championship really well.”
Among the flight winners for Cranbrook were Sienna Ilitch and Olivia Zhang, who repeated as champions at Nos. 3 and No. 4 singles, respectively.
“I think it had to be a little harder (to repeat),” said Ilitch, who was the top seed going into the tournament. “I had a tough match in the semifinals, and I had another tough match in the finals against (Melanie Bandara of) Country Day. She really stepped up and played hard. It was a good, competitive match.”
Ilitch and Zhang, both juniors, were in finals for the third consecutive year. For Ilitch, her victory Saturday helped ease the pain of her loss at the 2021 tournament.
“It might have been more exciting because my freshman year I lost in the final match of the day and we finished second,” she said. “This year, I ended up (clinching) the title for us.”
For one of Cranbrook’s seniors, Saturday’s final was all about nerves and keeping her teammates focused.
Inijie Gazayerli, one of Cranbrook’s co-captains, cheered on her team despite being sidelined by a recent case of mononucleosis.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “I mean, last season seems like yesterday, and I’m so proud of this team and what we've been able to accomplish.”
Grand Rapids Christian finished third with 23 points, led by Brynn Uchmann, who defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Julia Gurne 6-1, 6-1 to take the No. 1 singles title.
Saturday’s Final marked the 12th year in a row either Cranbrook or Country Day hoisted the championship trophy.
In the end, it came down to the mental aspect.
“I’m usually able to keep calm, and I think that really helps me through really tough matches,” Zhang said.
PHOTOS by High School Sports Scene.