Only one more tournament stands in the way for the Northville girls tennis team in its quest for the perfect season.
The undefeated Mustangs, scoring 31 of a possible 32 points, captured the Division 1-Region 2 tournament Friday at Novi Middle School and now heads to Midland (May 29-30) to try and complete their ultimate goal of winning an MHSAA championship.
“Just really proud of the girls and they’ve worked very, very hard throughout the season and off season,” Northville coach Linda Jones said. “We’ve had some close three-set matches at different tournaments throughout the season and the girls have been tough. We don’t know the word ‘quit,’ and they didn’t give up today at all either. We lost the one court, but that was a real good match, too.”
Northville, which will be joined by Region 2 runner-up Novi (23 points) at the state finals, captured three of four singles titles getting straight set victories from Shanoli Kumar (No. 2), Joanne Gao (No. 3) and Neha Chava (No. 4).
And the Mustangs nearly made it a clean sweep in singles, but Brighton’s Maddie Miller held off Northville’s Emma Worley in three competitive sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
But even more impressive was Northville’s doubles group as they swept all four flights in straight sets getting wins from Anika Mukherji and Reeshma Kumar (No. 1); Paige Baal and Claudia Ma (No. 2); Jordan Hermiz and Amelia Albanelli (No. 3); Serena Wang and Molly Bis (No. 4).
Even more impressive is that the Mustangs’ top four doubles flights do not have a single blemish on their record this season.
“That says it right there,” said Jones, who guided Northville to a third-place tie a year ago in Midland. “They’re state champs all the way and they’ll get the number one seed for the state tournament. We have a couple of singles players that are just out of this world good, too. We’re really hoping those doubles teams carry us through ‘states.’ That’s the expectation.”
If anybody knows what a state championship team looks like is Novi’s longtime coach Jim Hanson, who guided the Wildcats to the MHSAA Division 1 boys team championship last fall, the school’s first-ever state tennis crown.
“They (Northville) have a legitimate shot to win the title, but it’s going to take a team effort,” Hanson said. “You need contributions from all flights and they’re solid at all flights. That’s why they have a chance. Obviously their strength is their doubles. They’ve got some experience there and they have some good singles, too. Those kids will get them some points, too. They met the challenges during the season against teams up there that are going to be vying for the title. They’ve come through, so … “
Novi took regional runner-up honors in three singles flights – No. 2, Allison Lollo; No. 3, Jessica Lypka; and No. 4, Katie Xie.
The Wildcats also reached the finals in all four doubles flights as well getting runner-up finishes from Dhivya Sridar and Youna Lee, No. 1; Teja Mogasala and Carolyn Zhang, No. 2; Sam Martin and Katie Valade, No. 3; Shakila Khan and Katie Telder, No. 4.
“We played well today,” Hanson said. “We had to do what we did, which was just qualify. Northville was going to win the regional, but was between us, Brighton and Walled Lake Northern (12 each) as to who was going to take second.”
Novi, which will be making its 11th straight appearance at the state finals, finished tied for 14th last year in Midland.
“Top ten would be nice, but we just want to go up there and play our best tennis of the year,” Hanson said. “If we win some matches, fine. But if we don’t – as long as kids can keep their head high. We get two more weeks of tennis and get two more weeks of practice, so it’s a win-win there.”
Meanwhile, Jones said that Northville, which has met all challenges this season, will try and stay sharp by playing a series of scrimmages against Utica Eisenhower, Birmingham Marian and Ann Arbor Huron.
“We’re not going to stop, we’re going to keep moving on,” Jones said. “Some of these girls that have played every single match have played 25 matches this year. We’re still within our 16-game limit, but they’ve played so many because they’ve done so well in all the invitationals. So these girls are not going to stop. They’re going to keep on pushing.”
MHSAA DIVISION 1-REGION 2
GIRLS TENNIS TOURNEY
May 15 at Novi Middle School
TEAM STANDINGS (top 2 qualify for state finals): 1. Northville, 31 points; 2. Novi, 23; 3. (tie) Brighton and Walled Lake Northern, 12 each; 5. (tie) Walled Lake Western and Howell, 5 each; 7. Hartland, 4; 8. (tie) White Lake Lakeland and Walled Lake Central, 2 each.
FINAL FLIGHT RESULTS
No. 1 singles: Maddie Miller (Brighton) defeated Emma Worley (N’ville), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; semifinals: Miller def. Erin Day (Novi), 6-1, 6-2; Worley def. Alex Haver (WLN), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 2: Shanoli Kumar (N’ville) def. Allison Lollo (Novi), 6-1, 6-0; semifinals: Kumar def. M.G. Traub (Hartland), 6-0, 6-0; Lollo def. Alyssa Guadagni (Brighton), 6-4, 6-4.
No. 3: Joanne Gao (N’ville) def. Jessica Lypka (Novi), 6-3, 6-1; semifinals: Gao def. Sam Meyer (Brighton), 6-1, 6-0; Lypka def. Margarita Siratskaya (WLW), 6-0, 6-0.
No. 4: Neha Chava (N’ville) def. Katie Xie (Novi), 6-3, 6-2; semifinals: Chava def. Taylor Coleman (WLN), 6-2, 6-2; Xie def. Gianna Izzo (Brighton), 6-1, 6-3.
No. 1 doubles: Anika Mukherji -Reeshma Kumar (N’ville) def. Dhivya Sridar-Youna Lee (Novi), 6-0, 6-1; semifinals: Mukherji-Kumar def. Kara Browder-Hanna Turnbull (Howell), 6-0, 6-0; Sridar-Lee def. Aryn Thomas-Paige Voeffray (WLN), 6-1, 6-3.
No. 2: Paige Baal-Claudia Ma (N’ville) def. Teja Mogasala-Carolyn Zhanga (Novi), 6-1, 6-0; semifinals: Baal-Ma def. Sarah Strange-Kylie Strange (WLN), 6-0, 6-0; Mogasala-Zhang def. Madi Cholewa-Shera Miciek (Brighton), 6-0, 6-1.
No. 3: Jordan Hermiz-Amelia Albanelli (N’ville) def. Sam Martin-Katie Valade (Novi), 6-3, 6-3; semifinals: Hermiz-Albanelli def. Rachel Egbert-Delaney Ruff (Howell), 6-0, 6-0; Martin-Valade def. Sami Grudzien-Mikaka Grudzien (WLN), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
No. 4: Serena Wang-Molly Bis (N’ville) def. Shakila Khan-Katie Telder (Novi), 6-0, 6-0; semifinals: Wang-Bis def. Olivia Swenson-Sruthi Talluri (WLW), 6-1, 6-0; Khan-Telder def. Hannah Frelich-Paige McClintock, 6-1, 6-1.