kalamazoo – Simon Caldwell was the No. 1 Finals singles seed Simone Caldwell in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 Boys Tennis, but had to survive three sets in the semi-finals before clinching the title with a two-set victory in the finals.
Caldwell, just a freshman at Grand Rapids West Catholic, qualified individually when the team was unsuccessful.
Fired by three singles winners, Gross Pointe Woods Legit University returned home with a 30-point team championship trophy, Hudsonville Unity Christian in second with 27 points, Traverse City St. Francis in third with 22 points, and Big Rapids in position. Fourth with 18 points, Hackett Catholic Prep. Fifth with a score of 17. This was Ligitte’s fourth title since 2016.
The singles semi-final was played indoors while several family members and fans from Unity Christian helped dry the outdoor courts.
In a semifinal match that lasted two-and-a-half hours with many long pools, Caldwell defeated young, No. 4 seed Daniel Perrault of Brooklyn Columbia Central, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In the final, Caldwell defeated the second seed, Leggett Jr. Sebastian Courtwright, 6-3, 6-0.
“They are both great players and I played really well in both (games),” Caldwell said.
Caldwell, leading 4-1 in the third set in the semi-finals, started with a spasm. He lost two match points with a score of 5-3, then started serving under his hand.
Once he won the match, fans crammed into the stands with a standing ovation.
“It happens to the best of us,” the new student said of cramping. “Daniel is a great player and he started coming back to me. Anyone can win that match.
“It just so happened that I finally succeeded.”
Courtwright, who also played first last year, said his opponent had a good game.
“I think it was ultimately more consistent and more experienced.”
First seed Owen Jackson, a sophomore at St. Francis, defeated sixth seed Grand Rapids South Christian Jr. Levi Yaffe, 6-0, 6-0, in Final No. 2.
Jackson lost only four matches in the entire tournament.
“It’s a lot for keeping yourself motivated, keeping yourself moving and going and always supporting your teammates,” he said.
“The work we’ve done this season has really helped and really helped us play the big schools, like (Midland) Dow, Forest Hill Northern, Forest Hills Central. All of these games help you to always move forward and grow as a player and as a person.”
In third place singles, third seed Mika Redring defeated senior Christian Al Wahda, top seed Chris Bobrovsky, rookie of St. Francis, 6-3, 6-1.
Riddering lost in the first round of No. 3 singles last year and credits his grandfather, Click Groot, with helping him go from worst to first.
“It’s a blanket consistency,” he said. “I just kept the ball and waited for him to miss, I kept it deep.”
Bobrovsky said they both played as hard as they could, but “it was a good day today and a great mentality. He was able to get a little bit past me.”
Learning from experience, “You teach me that I might need a little bit stronger mindset during matches and that it only comes down to one match at the end when you get to the finals, so you have to give your best and your hardest.”
After losing the first set in the fourth singles, second-year student Charlie Coxey defeated third-seeded Allegan Jr. Jackson Morey 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“I was hitting the ball really hard and I didn’t put it down,” Coxey said in the first set. “In the second set, I asked myself to reset myself, pulled myself together and completed it.”
Jackson went from playing No. 4 doubles in his freshman year to No. 2 doubles last year, reaching the quarter-finals both times.
“I put in some hard work and some effort,” he said this season, noting that his strength lies in his speed on the court.
While Leggett’s No. 3 doubles team, top-seeded Steve Wheatley and Griffin Marshall, won the World Cup Finals match, 6-0, 6-3, against third-seeded Carson Paul and David Ansley, St. Francis clinched their semi-final victory in the team championship. Legit.
“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve started 18-0 and pressed right away,” Wheatley said. “We knew that our entry was a win in our championship.”
Leggett coach Mark Sobieralski said the pair had some impressive victories over teams in the higher divisions.
“They are both hockey players as their first sports; they are just athletes,” Sobieralski said. “Stevie (older) is the guy on the net. It’s all over. He has incredible hands.
“Griffin, the freshman, we got him back, he kept the ball in play, and we set up Stevie. They were like a match made in heaven.”
Sobieralski was particularly proud of his No. 1 doubles team, senior Campbell Marshall and rookie Tommy Ogval.
“They suffered a lot during the beginning of the year,” he said. “They had a tough time and weren’t really together. They were seeded No. 4 and had a record under 0.500 per season.
“We’re playing with a really tough schedule but they’ve been together all weekend and they took everything out of being the fourth seed.”
The duo defeated top seed Charlie King and Derek Berta, St. Francis, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, in the semi-finals before beating top seed Jacob Lanning and Will Annama, Unity Christian, 7-5, 6-1 in the final.
Unity Christian coach Bradley Medema thought his team was headed for third, but was thrilled with their second place win.
“I told the players that if we all care about what we can do on a seed basis and pull off some disruption, there is a chance of winning it,” he said.
Seniors Andrew Miller and Dominic Hope listened to their coach.
“They were number 5 (in doubles) and now (they won) the final.
“That’s what I’m most proud of this year.”
Unity Christian is losing eight seniors from its alma mater but Miedema said with 24 rookie players, “I think we’ll be able to put in some good players next year.”
In fourth place doubles, second-seeded Elijah Hines and Ari Ziska, Big Rapids defeated top seed Ryan King, Nico Kucci, Leggett, 6-3, 6-4.
St. Francis coach Dan Vosgaard said this year’s squad includes six players who have never played in the state finals.
“It was definitely a new experience for them,” he said. “They did a great job but I lost two rides in the first round, so I think they will be hungry for some wins next year.
“Third place is not that bad despite our first or second expectation.”
Pictures (Top) Gross Pointe Woods U Legit celebrates the MHSAA D4 Boys tennis title. (Photo courtesy of Pam ChipsR.)