Doubles key to Huron’s shot at a state title four-peat

Doubles key to Huron’s shot at a state title four-peat


Doubles key to Huron’s shot at a state title four-peat


It was painful, heart-stopping and for all the marbles Saturday when Ann Arbor Huron’s No. 4 doubles team had to beat Ann Arbor Pioneer to claim a fifth straight regional title.

With the teams tied at 26-all, Huron’s Chauncey (C.J.) Williams and Anders Rasmussen needed a victory over Pioneer’s Nikhil Kaira and Grant McLean.

“They had lost to them three times this season,” said Orion Sang, a member of Huron’s No. 2 doubles team, of his teammates.

Williams and Rasmussen lost the first set, 6-2.

“It was a very tight second set, into a tie-breaker,” said Will Brenner, Sang’s doubles partner. “Then Chauncey started experiencing chest pains. He was somehow able to pull through and they were able to pull it out very easily, 6-2, in the third.”

Said Rasmussen: “We had a pretty tough time against Pioneer. They were undefeated. We were down 2-4 in the second set. We had seven match points against us and we came back to win the tie-breaker, 7-4. C.J. had tightness in his chest, so we took a medical break. We lost the first game of the third set and came back and won four or five straight.”

Huron claimed the regional, 27-26, which should make for an exciting Division 1 final this weekend at the Midland Tennis Center.

The River Rats have won three straight team titles, and have a loaded field of Pioneer, Birmingham Brother Rice, Northville, Novi, Grosse Pointe South and Troy to contend with.

At No. 1 singles, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Northville’s Connor Johnson and Novi’s Tim Wang faced off again. Johnson beat Wang in the regional finals. Wang is the defeating state champion, beating Johnson in last year’s final.

Huron is young at singles with sophomore David Grandham playing No. 1 singles, freshman Kobie Mueller at No. 2, sophomore Alex Kotlyar at No. 3 and sophomore Justin Park at No. 4.

A fourth title likely would come down to Huron’s four doubles teams, all regional champions, dominating the field.

Whatever the case, winning the regional in thrilling fashion should only help the younger players, said coach Stefan Welch.

“The pressure at regionals is higher than it is during the regular season,” said Welch. “It gets even more intense at states, so having that pressure and being so tight with Pioneer helps the kids experience that before states, especially with a young team.

“The previous three years, we had a core group of seniors that graduated together last year and had played together for years growing up. We had a lot of experience on those teams. This year’s team has come together well and has gotten better throughout the season, but they are still a little inexperienced. That’s why it’s good to have tight matches at regionals like we did.”

Abrupt departure: After the team went on a successful trip to Indiana early in the season, Birmingham Detroit Country Day coach Josh Molino surprisingly quit. The Yellowjackets had won two straight Division 3 titles under Molino. The team is on a string of three straight, with Tom Ellis starting the streak in 2011. He took over after Molino quit. Ellis also guided the team to a state title in 2009.

When asked about his departure via text, Molino replied to the Free Press: “No comment. It was best for the program and myself to part ways. I’m strictly MTA Molino Tennis Academy now. No more Country Day.”

On a serious roll: Midland Dow won all eight flights at its regional in East Lansing and is gunning for its sixth straight team title in Division 2.

All in the family: Saginaw junior Andrew Farrell, my nephew, was No. 1 singles flight champion at the Division 4 Essex Garber regional. He defeated Hemlock’s Hunter Irish to advance to the state finals for the second time in two years.

Tennis state finals

When: Friday-Saturday.

Where: Div. 1 — Midland Tennis Center. Div. 2 — Kalamazoo College. Div. 3 — Holly/Fenton. Div. 4 — Holland.


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