Girls tennis teams from Ludington and North Muskegon represented the West Michigan Conference in the MHSAA state championships Friday and Saturday in different divisions and at different locations.
The Orioles edged the Norse for the Coastal Conference title in the regular season, but their schools are WMC members.
Below are details from their respective state finals experiences.
DIVISION 3 AT ANN ARBOR
Photos courtesy of Ludington girls tennis
Ludington finished 12th as a team in the Division 2 state finals Friday and Saturday at the University of Michigan. The Orioles totaled six points.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood won the team title with 33 points, followed by Detroit Country Day at runner-up with 31. Grand Rapids Christian was third (27), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep fourth (15) and Bloomfield Hills Marian fifth (14).
Sophomore Jennah Skiba was the top finisher individually for Ludington in her advancement to the semifinals at No. 3 singles. Skiba lost to second-seeded Melanie Bandara of Detroit Country Day in the semifinals (6-2, 6-4).
“Jennah Skiba had a great tournament,” Ludington coach Larry Brown said. “She went to the semifinals in the flight and then lost. In her first match, Jennah beat the third-seeded player of that flight in a three-hour match in 90-degree temperature that started at 11:30 a.m. This was one of the toughest matches I have seen — long points and a lot of duece play. She won 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
“An hour and 15 minutes later, she played Notre Dame Prep (and won 6-1, 6-1). … This sent her on to the semifinal rounds for Saturday. On Saturda, she played the second-seeded opponent from Detroit Country Day and lost in a tough match by a score of 6-2, 6-4. What an experience for her and the team.”
Ludington No. 1 singles player Hannah Glanville and No. 4 singles player Claire Shoup both won one match and lost in the round of 16.
Ludington’s No. 1 doubles (Grace Higley and Sophia Sarto), No. 2 doubles (Emilie Phillips and Sarah Gibson), No. 3 doubles (Annika Taranko and Gabby Hockenberger) and No. 4 doubles (Katie Shank and Makennah Malkowski) teams all won one match and lost in the round of 16.
“The finals were a great experience for us. It really challenged us to perform at a high level. It was good to see us peak at the right time of the year,” said Brown, who noted that Ludington’s parent group surprised the team by paying for a charter bus.
On the way to Ann Arbor, the Orioles stopped to practice in 90-degree heat at Jackson Northwest to get acclimated to what their state finals would be like. Brown used to coach at Parma Western near Jackson.
“This experience will probably be a big impact in the girls’ lives in our program,” Brown said. “It shows the girls that with hard work and determination and commitment, that they can go a long ways in life as well as the game of tennis and anything they do and work hard for.”
DIVISION 4 AT KALAMAZOO
North Muskegon finished 11th as a team in the Division 4 state finals Friday and Saturday at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University. The Norse totaled 10 points.
Ann Arbor Greenhills ran way with the state championship with 36 points, followed by Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard runner-up (20), Bloomfield Academy of the Sacred Heart third (18), and Traverse City St. Francis and Grand Rapids Catholic Central tied for fourth (15).
“The girls battled through 90-plus-degree temperatures all day Friday against the best teams in the stte and proved how tough they were both mentally and physically,” North Muskegon coach Cody Liverance said.
“Although we didn’t score as well as we hoped we would coming in, I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of this group.”
North Muskegon No. 1 singles player Marilyn Gaston advanced to the quarterfinals, where she lost to top-seeded and eventual state champ Maddie Morgan of Ann Arbor Greenhills (6-1, 6-0).
North Muskegon No. 2 singles player Fia Lindsay made it to the semifinals, where she fell to top-seeded Shangyang Xia of Greenhills (6-1, 6-2).
North Muskegon No. 3 singles player Francine Vinson advanced to the quarters, where she lost to second-seeded Kenna Trost of Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (6-2, 6-0).
North Muskegon’s fifth-seeded No. 1 doubles team of Ella Tarrant and Anna Toebe made it to the quarters, where they fell to fourth-seeded Brenna Cavanaugh and Elizabeth Harris of Wixom St. Catherine (6-4, 6-2).
“More than what they were able to accomplish on the court, I had numerous people — including the tournament director and multiple line judges – compliment our girls on their sportsmanship, attitude, and overall demeanor, especially compared to some other schools in attendance,” Liverance said.
“It made me pretty emotional hearing people who’ve never met our kids before say that based on a first impression of them as people and competitors. This wouldn’t be possible without a great group of parents raising these girls and an extremely supportive community helping them along the way. I hope the entire North Muskegon community is as proud of these ladies as I am and it’s been an absolute honor to be their coach.”
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