Ann Arbor Greenhills nets third straight state title for girls’ tennis

With state championships in seven out of eight flights, Ann Arbor Greenhills won its third consecutive MHSAA Division 4 state title in girls’ tennis June 1 at University of Michigan. (Courtesy of Michigan High School Athletic Association)

ANN ARBOR — “If you look up and down the list of results from Division 2 to Division 4, you will find that Catholic League tennis teams are habitually successful,” Ann Arbor Greenhills coach Mark Randolph said.

But if you are looking for Randolph’s team, start at the top.

The Gryphons grabbed their third consecutive team tennis title last Saturday at the University of Michigan, winning the Division 4 crown, scoring 38 team points. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep was runner-up with 27, while Traverse City St. Francis (19), Elk Rapids (17) and Wixom St. Catherine and Grand Rapids West Catholic (tied with 16 apiece) were also among the top teams.

“It was like every year — a nail biter, a horse race, a heavy lift, all of those things,” Randolph said. “Notre Dame Prep is a very worthy rival, as is Traverse City St. Francis and Elk Rapids. St. Catherine had strong and successful doubles and we knew that.”

After the first day of competition on Friday, Greenhills was actually tied with Notre Dame Prep at 24 points apiece. But the Gryphons caught fire in the Saturday matches, pulling away after winning championships in seven of the eight flights.

“It really comes down to a competition of who can execute under pressure,” said Randolph, an English and Cultural Studies teacher at the school. “We knew that we were going to have to focus and give it our all. Notre Dame Prep brought a great effort, and they brought game. They made us play well.”

Greenhills junior Maddie Morgan won the No. 1 singles title in a three-set victory over Elk Rapids’ Ava Johnstone — a player who had defeated her earlier in the season. At No. 2 singles, freshman Ellie Kim completed an undefeated season with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Elk Rapids’ Anneka Croftchik.

“In the past, 95 percent of my job was either teaching the game or coaching the players up,” Randolph said. “We hoped that we could get one kid with USTA (U.S. Tennis Association tournament) experience. We’re grateful to have them both because they play great tennis. Maddie and Ellie each are capable of playing quality collegiate tennis. Now, my role is a technician and tactician, and I get to be involved in their development as players.”

Shangyang Xia (No. 3 singles) won an individual championship for the third season in a row, while Danica Rakic-Dennis won at No. 4.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep duo Erin Delaney and Megan Fitzpatrick won the Division 4 state championship at No. 3 doubles, the only flight in which Ann Arbor Greenhills did not have the winner. (Courtesy of Notre Dame Prep Athletic Department)
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep duo Erin Delaney and Megan Fitzpatrick won the Division 4 state championship at No. 3 doubles, the only flight in which Ann Arbor Greenhills did not have the winner. (Courtesy of Notre Dame Prep Athletic Department)

In doubles, the Gryphons’ Lauren Ye and Nina Malani (No. 1), Sophie Chen and Sophia Kleer (No. 2) and Parini Rao and Alyssa Hong (No. 4) earned championships in their flights.

"We got 38 out of the 40 points (possible),” Randolph said. “We dropped the third doubles, but we don’t see that being a disappointment because it was to good competition who played well. Our team motto is 'All joy, no fear, can’t lose,' and we don’t feel like we lost there. We played great, we were joyful, we made friends, it was all good. The magic was in the air, and we grabbed it.”

Greenhills’ string was broken when Notre Dame Prep’s Erin Delaney and Megan Fitzpatrick won the No. 3 doubles flight in two sets over Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian’s top-ranked duo of Laura Brandt and Leah Ulstad. Delaney and Fitzpatrick pulled off upsets in both the semi-finals (over Greenhills) and final round to become the first state champions in Notre Dame Prep history. Addie Bellows also reached the finals at No. 3 singles, and her points assured the Fighting Irish of a runner-up finish — the team’s best ever.

The Fighting Irish reached the semi-finals in the other six flights. They had placed fourth in Division 3 last season before moving to Division 4 this spring, with most of their players returning from that squad.

It was also the best state tournament performance for St. Catherine, which won the Catholic League’s Bishop Division tournament last month. Coach Judy Hehs said that achievement — which came after 13 hours of play, including rain delays and moving to indoor courts — propelled the Stars to finish the season strong.

By landing in a fifth-place tie with Grand Rapids West Catholic, Wixom St. Catherine scored its highest ranking ever at a state finals tournament. (Photo by Michelle Harris | Special to Detroit Catholic)
By landing in a fifth-place tie with Grand Rapids West Catholic, Wixom St. Catherine scored its highest ranking ever at a state finals tournament. (Photo by Michelle Harris | Special to Detroit Catholic)

“Division 4 was super-competitive, and not only that, those teams and players gravitate toward each other, so we play each other during the season, so there were relationships being built. But you don’t know how you will do for sure until you show up and play,” said Hehs, who previously guided Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart to six state championships.

It was the fifth state title for Greenhills under Randolph’s guidance — the last three, and 2019 and 2017. The Gryphons also swept their regional in all eight flights, and went undefeated in dual matches, including their first-ever victory over Cranbrook.

The Catholic League’s Bishop Division tournament was not completed this spring due to inclement weather on May 11.

Division 3: Cranbrook, Marian finish among top four

In the Division 3 tournament played at Kalamazoo College, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood finished second with 29 points while Bloomfield Hills Marian was fourth with 22. Detroit Country Day had 33 in winning its first team title in three seasons.

Cranbrook’s No. 2 doubles team of Sophia Kouza and Grace Zhang won the flight championship with a three-set victory over Lucy and Brenna Taylor of Chelsea after upsetting the top-seeded duo from Parma Western in the semifinals.

The No. 3 and No. 4 doubles finals were All-Catholic League affairs. At No. 3, Cranbrook’s Madeline Day and Sanvi Upadhyayula downed Marian’s Audrey Agbay and Yana Higgins in three close sets. At No. 4, Michelle Chen and Jessica Hall defeated Marian’s Lauren Higdon and Stella Glorio in two sets.

Division 2: Mercy registers third-place finish

Farmington Hills Mercy made its mark in the Division 2 tournament played in Grand Rapids, finishing third with 22 points. Only champion Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (29) and runner-up Birmingham Seaholm (23) finished above the Marlins.

Gabby Owens held her top seed at No. 4 singles to win the state championship in straight sets over Forest Hills Northern’s Aanya Dogra.

Mercy also had finalists at the top two singles flights. At No. 1, Megan Sullivan dropped a two-set match to Forest Hills Central’s Lily Ohlman, who successfully defended her state title. At No. 2, Keira Kirkland fell to Forest Hills Northern’s Andrea Wang in three sets.

Penelope Livermore and Reese Sinawi also reached the finals at No. 4 doubles, but were defeated by Seaholm’s Anna Olekszyk and Katie Joyce.



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