The champions of the four CAAC divisions — and arguably the four best high school tennis players in the Lansing area — met in two regional finals at No. 1 singles on Friday.
In a battle of former state champions, Okemos junior and CAAC Blue champion Emily Struble topped Mason senior and CAAC Gold champion Abby Perkins 6-2, 6-4 in the Division 2 regional at East Lansing.
In a battle of unbeatens, Williamston sophomore and CAAC White champion Sara Daavettila improved to 14-0 and ended Haslett senior and CAAC Red champion Shea Donahue’s 16-0 start with a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the Division 3 regional at Haslett.
Struble and Okemos earned a third-straight regional team title, while Daavettila’s and three more victories at doubles flights enabled Williamston to tie Haslett for the Division 3 regional team title.
“It’s our first year in Division 3, and we’re surprised and delighted to have done as well as we’ve done,” Williamston coach Steve Stanley said.
Donahue reached two deuces in one game, one in another and got as close as 40-30 in three other games against Daavettila, but couldn’t secure a single game against an opponent for the first time in her high school career.
“She was the best I have ever played,” “Donahue said. “She’s just so consistent. You can’t hit a really good shot and expect her to miss it.”
Daavettila, who only missed getting first serves in five times, also was impressed with Donahue.
“She’s one of the better ones I have been able to compete with,” said Daavettila, who was homeschooled until this year. “To play with a team, it’s been so much fun. Everyone supports everybody. It’s been great.”
Hornets’ seniors Delaney Nikolai and Caitlyn Chick had wrapped up the No. 1 doubles title before the finishing stretch. The three who completed the doubles sweep and enabled Williamston to tie Haslett 27-27 were seniors Carolina Marshall and Macy Pell at No. 2, junior Jewell Allen and sophomore Emily Pell at No. 3, and juniors Madison Gardner and Taylor Keip at No. 4.
“We’ve kind of had that pattern in the past with our doubles teams,” Stanley. “It takes us a little time to figure out what to do in the court to win the match. A lot of credit goes to our doubles coach Dan Sluiter.”
Haslett captured the other three singles flight championships with sophomore Hannah Vogelsang at No. 2 singles, and juniors Allison Grandfield at No. 3 and Brooke Hartsuff at No. 4.
“For two days, we played a regional that was rained out. We had to go indoors and outdoors,” Haslett coach Henry Brunnschweiler said. “Both Williamston and Haslett will represent mid-Michigan really well at the Division 3 state tournament.”
Perkins — who advances to the Division 2 state finals in Holland as an individual — pulled ahead 2-1 in the first set after breaking Struble’s serve, and then 3-1 in the second set.
“Both sets, I was keeping the ball a little too short in the beginning,” Struble said. “I was not as focused, but when I got down, my shots were cleaner. As the set went on, I knew I could win. On the close points and games, I think I was more relaxed than she was. I knew it would be tough, but I’m happy.”
Freshman Olivia Hanover kept Okemos from sweeping the singles titles by winning at No. 2 singles for Mason, which missed advancing to state finals as a team by two points.
Other singles champions for the Chiefs, who compiled 25 points, were junior Catherine Wingrove at No. 3 and sophomore Kylie Wilkinson at No. 4.
“We ended up with six flights in the finals, and that was a little bit unexpected,” Okemos coach Lisa Semerly said. “We knew we would do solid on the singles side, as we have all year, but the doubles really stepped up this tournament.”
East Lansing advanced to state as a team with 20 points by sweeping the doubles titles. Champions were seniors Sarah Brainard and Emily Volovsek at No. 1, senior Allie Buehler and junior Molly Ring at No. 2, senior Maleeha Ahmad and sophomore Amna Ahmad at No. 3, and senior Elizabeth Beckett and sophomore Megan Heck at No. 4.
“We knew we had a great opportunity to do very well in doubles, and they all got the ‘W’ today done,” East Lansing coach Cosette Buckberry said. “We wanted to make states, our girls have worked hard all season, and now we’re headed there.”
DIVISION 1 at Saginaw Heritage: Lauren Sharp advanced to state finals as an individual by finishing as regional runner-up at No. 1 singles for Grand Ledge, which finished in fourth place with 10 points. Holt came in fifth of 10 teams with seven points.
DIVISION 3 at Grand Rapids Christian: Lakewood won three first-round matches and finished in a tie for sixth place. Ionia took ninth.