After years of coming close, Portland broke through and captured the CAAC White girls tennis title Thursday at Lansing Catholic.
The Division 4 No. 6-ranked Raiders compiled 34 points to 30 each for Williamston and No. 7-ranked Lansing Catholic.
“It seems like every year we’re a couple points behind,” Portland 17th-year coach Jim Niebling said. “We’re usually nipping at their heels, losing 5-3 (in duals) in three-setters or on tiebreakers. This year, we seemed to get a lot more of them (close matches).”
Juniors Lysie Eldridge and Chelsea Geiger and sophomore Sydni Greenhoe won at second, third and fourth flight singles, respectively, along with senior Hayley Bonn and freshman Michelle Dorshimer at third flight doubles for the Raiders.
“We have some really good depth,” Niebling said. “It seemed like Lansing Catholic and Williamston have some flights that aren’t as strong as the rest of their team.”
But Niebling never felt Portland had a safe lead.
“It seemed to go back and forth,” he said. “It’s frustrating because you have two really good teams in your league to fight every year. But on the other hand, you have two really good teams pushing you. Lansing Catholic and Williamston have quality programs, and Lakewood had some matches today where they really pushed us. They have improved.”
Lakewood finished in fourth place and Corunna fifth.
Portland and Lansing Catholic likely will fight it out again for a Division 4 regional title Thursday at Portland. Williamston, led by No. 1 singles league champion Sara Daavetilla, moves up to Division 3 this year, and will compete in the Haslett regional on Thursday.