By: Daniel Stickradt
GIRLS TENNIS: Midland Dow finds way to earn state title share with Northville
BY DAN STICKRADT
MIDLAND — In the unlikeliest of scenarios, Midland Dow repeated as a state champion.
Second-ranked Midland Dow and top-ranked Northville shared the MHSAA Division 1 crown with 30 points apiece on June 3 at the Midland Community Tennis Center — making it the first time that the D-1 finals ended with a tie.
“The way the seeds were, I wasn't sure if we could do it or not,” said Midland Dow coach Garrett Turner. “But the girls stepped up.”
Northville edged out Dow for the team title in 2015, while Dow defeated Northville for the crown in 2016. The Chargers also won a title in 2009.
Bloomfield Hills came in a close third with 27 points, while Grosse Pointe South (17), Ann Arbor Pioneer (16), Novi (12), Troy (8), Farmington Hills Mercy (7), Port Huron Northern (7) and Rockford (6) round out the top 10.
“We had a couple of upsets along the way, and Northville had a couple of kids lose earlier. The helped,” said Turner, who team competed in its 20th straight state finals — last missing the cut in 1996. “Northville had been us (at a tournament) earlier in the year.
Northville’s Renee Torres edged Dow’s Hadley Camp, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3 singles late in the day which forged the tie between the two state powers.
Torres, however, won a three-set semifinals and beat the No. 2 seed just to reach the finals.
“I think what we really needed was for a couple of our flights to play beyond their seeds and I think we were able to do that in a couple of flights,” said Turner. “We weren't supposed to win on paper. We had just one top seed but ended up with three champions.”
Third-seeded Sarah Ismail captured the crown at No. 2 singles for Dow, topping top-seeded Laurel Sullivan in the finals, 6-2, 6-4.
In the doubles flights, Dow’s Mina Fabiano and Tatum Matthews lost in the finals at No. 1 to top-seeded Neha Chava and Maya Mulchandani of Northville, 7-5, 6-1, at No. 2 doubles.
At No. 3 doubles, Dow’s No. 1 seeded duo of Caroline Szabo and Christina Vanerkelen swept Northville’s second seeded Connie Gao and Andrea Nam, 6-3, 6-3. Szabo had shoulder surgery last winter and had to switch hands but still recovered to have a fine season.
Lastly, Midland Dow’s third-seeded unit of Maggie Schaller and Reema Patel claimed a state title at No. 4 doubles. The duo outlasted Bloomfield Hills’ top-seeded Lauren Ruby and Kaela Bernard, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
“That was the difference for us, seeing our lower-seeded kids rise to the occasion and win their flights, going through other seeded players to win and give us the extra points,” said Turner. “This was a great team effort. They truly saved their best for last.”