Saying that Portland High School senior Chance Conley has played tennis competitively since he was 10 years old might be an understatement.
Conley, who will play tennis at the next level after signing with the University of Detroit-Mercy, has a emotional drive to win that is obvious to anyone who watches him play. That competitive fire may have been ignited at the age of 8, when he was rooting on his sister Lacy at the 2002 Division 4 state finals.
Lacy Conley, along with doubles partner Amy Ward, advanced to the championship match in the second doubles flight, which they lost to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. Placing second in the flight helped Portland to their best-ever placement in tennis in either gender, fourth in the state.
“Growing up, I always compared myself to my sister,” Conley said. “The best team that Portland ever had finished fourth at states, and that was my sister’s team.”
Conley helped the Raider boys team to duplicate that fourth-place finish twice in his four years at Portland, but there was a more lasting, personal takeaway from the 2002 Division 4 second-doubles state final.
“It was a really intense match, and Liggett made what I thought was a bad call against my sister,” he said. “It kind of sparked a rivalry. I wanted to go out there and beat them. And I didn’t lose a match to Liggett throughout my high-school career.”
Conley was the Division 4 state champion in 2011 and runner-up in 2012, posting a 124-21 record in his four years as the Raiders’ top singles player, earning first-team All-CAAC and first-team All-State honors all four years. In his senior year, Portland
“Chance has been the most significant player in our program history,” Portland coach Jim Niebling said. “Plus, he’s a terrific individual.”
Detroit-Mercy competes in the Horizon League, coached by Grant Asher, who took the job in 2009, reviving a Division I varsity program at UDM that had been dormant for the prior 13 years.
“I am excited to have Chance aboard,” Asher said. “He is a Michigan boy who has a ton of talent and is very strong. He hits a hard ball and will be a great fit for our program.”
Conley also hopes to be a great fit in the classroom.
“They have a great academic program there for Biology, and that’s what I want to major in,” he said. “The majority of the student population is science majors.
“It’s a small school, similar to the school I go to now, so it would sort of feel like being at home. At the same time, it’s in the middle of Detroit and I wanted to go to a major city when I left home, just to get out there and see what the world is like.”