Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Armada, St. Clair, and Port Huron Northern will each represent the Blue Water Area at their respective MHSAA Boys Tennis State Finals later this week.
Division 1, Region 7 hosted by Utica Eisenhower (Thursday, Oct. 6)
Port Huron Northern finished fourth as a team with four points at the regional, led by senior Charley Dunkel who was the individual runner-up in the No. 1 singles flight, punching his ticket to the Division 1 State Finals.
“It’s awesome. I was on the team my freshman year that unfortunately did not make states, which would’ve been our 20th year in a row, so it really feels great to restart that streak,” Dunkel said. “Hopefully some of my future teammates can keep that streak going.”
Dunkel won his first match against Utica’s Nathan Berger 6-1, 6-0, which he said was a good warm up for the semifinal.
“I woke up feeling pretty good. I’ve been dealing with some back soreness stuff, so I was going to try to get through my first round as quickly as possible,” Dunkel said. “I also knew that if I won the semifinal, I’d be in states, so it was really about getting through the semifinal.”
He played Utica Eisenhower’s Luke Suchyta in the semifinal, winning the match 6-4, 6-2 to qualify for the championship, in which he fell to Andrew Vincler of Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.
“I really played a good match in the semifinal…I had to keep myself poised and not let errors I made get to me and I really tried to work the backhand,” Dunkel said. “I ended up playing a really consistent and concise match.”
Senior Tyler Jamison and his freshman brother Alex Jamison scored another point for Northern winning their first round at the No. 1 doubles spot 6-4, 6-3 over Macomb Dakota. And two Northern sophomores, Hunter Christopher and Owen Hill, picked up the fourth point at No. 4 doubles with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Anchor Bay.
Dunkel will play his final matches at Holland Christian High School and Hope College this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15.
“I just want to make sure I end on a good note. If I play somebody better than me, I want to go out there and lose swinging,” Dunkel said. “It’ll be the last match of my career no matter what, so at the end of the day, what’s the point of not trying?”
Division 3, Region 21 hosted by Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (Thursday, Oct. 6)
For the Saints, qualifying for the State Finals was a task that had loomed overhead all season. With five seniors on the team who hadn’t missed a championship yet, this year’s squad didn’t want to let them down.
“The whole team worked really hard this year. I’m really proud of the effort and time they put into making it a go for the team so as not to ruin that record of going to states,” head coach Cassie Pinnoo said. “I was so proud of the whole team. There are eight seniors on the team and a good handful of them grew up together playing tennis since they were like 6 or 7 years old, so I’m just proud of them all for making it.”
St. Clair finished second overall with 15 points, falling only to Cranbrook Kingswood with 22. Marysville junior Weston Tenyer scored the only point for the Vikings after winning his first round over Ortonville Brandon, 6-1, 6-3.
All four of St. Clair’s singles players advanced to their respective championship matches: seniors Michael Mascarin, Ian Pinnoo, and Hadley Schwarz, and sophomore Braxton Essian. Pinnoo was the only one to walk away a champion, winning 6-4, 6-0 in his final match over Cranbrook.
Seniors Patrick Mason and Joey Fajardo picked up a point with a 6-0, 6-1 win in the first round at No. 1 doubles, and fellow seniors Braylon Essian and John Hurttgam did the same at No. 2 doubles.
The Saints’ No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams each won an exciting semifinal as well, picking up four more points. Sophomore Nathan Postma and junior Collin Miller won 7-6, 3-5, 6-4 at No. 3 doubles, and senior Keagan Malcolm and sophomore Logan Roberts won 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 at No. 4 doubles.
“The three and four doubles worked really hard. It’s hard coming into a new team with new partners and trying to get the partners’ compatibility down – who works well together and whose abilities complement each other – and it all worked great for the threes and fours,” Pinnoo said.
The Saints will travel to the Lansing area for the Division 3 State Finals on Oct. 14-15.
“We’re excited. It was a lot of work getting there this season, but hey, it all came together,” Pinnoo said.
Division 4, Region 28 hosted by Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (Wednesday, Oct. 5)
After winning the BWAC title, the senior-dominant Armada tennis team had one goal left for the season – qualifying for the State Finals – and the Tigers did so by scoring 22 points to finish second at last week’s regional.
“I know not just me, but for a lot of the team, it’s kind of a relief [to qualify]. We were all tense because it was our last shot and our best shot at it, so the fact that we did it was relieving,” senior Colton Smith said. “I feel like we played pretty well as a team. We all just played our best…I know I played some of my best matches.”
Smith and his partner, junior Jack Davis, finished as runners-up in the No. 1 doubles flight, winning their first two matches 6-1, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-3. They were in one of five flights in which Armada qualified for the championship.
Senior Parker Westfall and sophomore Jaret Hill each made it to their championship matches at the No. 2 and No. 4 singles flights, respectively. And senior Ty Vanlerberghe and junior Jacob Meerschaert, and junior Drew Blake and sophomore Jacob Dean, each qualified at the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles flights, respectively.
Armada’s No. 1 singles player, senior Nolan Hill, made it to his semifinal with a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the first round. Senior Jim Burns also picked up a point at No. 3 singles, and sophomores Nathan Merzlak and Colten Germundson picked up a point at No. 4 doubles.
“It means so much to me,” Hill said. “Just that we made it to states and that it’s on our record for Armada and being able to see all the other teams that we’re going to be competing with, it’s going to be really cool and a really good experience.”
The Tigers were in a region with several other local teams: Sandusky (16 points), Almont (11), Yale (5), Marine City (3), Imlay City (3), and Richmond (1). Armada will represent them at the Division 4 State Finals at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University on Oct. 15-16.
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