MHSAA girls tennis: Kingsford keeps Division 1 title for itself this time, tops Negaunee

KINGSFORD – The 2013 MHSAA U.P. Division 1 Finals came down to one girls tennis team Wednesday.

Kingsford, which shared last year’s trophy with Negaunee, turned back the Miners and four other schools for the championship.

The Flivvers and Miners entered as heavy favorites, with both coming off conference crowns and unbeaten dual seasons. Kingsford faced the same teams in the Great Northern tournament, with the exception being Mid-Peninsula champ Negaunee replacing West Iron County.

“We knew it was going to be a topsy-turvy tournament,” said Kingsford Coach Mark Shanks, who plans to step down after this season. “It came down to the draw and we got to the finals in all eight flights.”

Kingsford accumulated 18 points to 14 for Negaunee. Third-place Escanaba with nine topped Marquette, which had eight. Menominee finished with four points and Gladstone had two.

“We knew coming in it would be a battle with Kingsford,” Negaunee Coach Kyle Saari said. “You can say all you want about dual meet records, but once you get in to a tournament situation you don’t really know where the chips are going to fall.”

The Flivvers posted two flight champs in No. 2 singles Janay Walters and No. 2 doubles Ali VanRemortel-Jaelyn Jennings. Kingsford took second in the other six finals.

“Team strength, that’s what we talked about all week,” Shanks said. “Chances are that somebody would falter, but the team would pick up the pieces. That’s exactly what happened.”

Shanks pointed to Marquette knocking off Negaunee in two doubles divisions to assist the Flivvers.

“Everybody beat each other up and stole a few points here and there,” Shanks said. “Escanaba, even though they beat us (at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles), did some damage getting there. Basically, we had it won after the second round.”

Walters, once-beaten on the season, beat Negaunee’s Abbi Kill 7-5, 6-3 in the finals. The Miners clipped the Flivvers in the other three singles finals – No. 1, Allison Carlson over Hannah Tresedder, 6-2, 6-0; No. 3, Angie Ring over unbeaten Santina Bianco, 6-4, 6-1, and No. 4, undefeated Dana DeBretto over freshman Katy Hicks 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The unbeaten Carlson (18-0) wanted to keep Tresedder (14-3) away from the net.

“I was trying to be consistent, run down every ball and hit passing shots when she came to the net,” said Carlson, who defeated Tresedder for the 2012 No. 2 singles title. “She comes up to the net a lot and I had to get it by her to beat her.”

Carlson also plays hockey for the Marquette Sentinels travel team. That sport contributes to hand-eye coordination for tennis.

“She’s an athlete,” Saari said. “My old high school coach, Dan Skewis, said he always loved getting athletes over tennis players, and that’s what Alli is. She’s just a true athlete.

“When you have somebody like that, they naturally know how to grind a point out. She’s a fighter, but not only that, she’s a great tennis player as well. It’s nice to see her season come together.”

Negaunee High School tennis has now turned out back-to-back, unbeaten, left-handed U.P. No. 1 singles champions in Carlson and Cody Tossava.

“We had some really nice individual performances,” Saari said. “Angie (Ring) had a heck of a match and beat a girl who hasn’t lost in two years. That’s fun to see girls mature over the course of the year.”

Escanaba claimed the Nos. 1 and 3 doubles titles. Olivia Berquist and Shelby Gregoire pinned the season’s first loss on the Flivvers’ Anna Shanks-Kate Lamy, 6-2, 6-1. Top-seeded No. 3 Olivia LaForest and Emily LaFave outlasted Megan VanPembrook and Taylor Jacobson, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Marquette captured No. 4 doubles with Brenna Leafers and Aubrey Reynolds-Erspamer beating Kingsford’s Abby Johnson and Kelsey Bennett 6-1, 6-7, 6-2.

“They had to win three matches – eight sets and two tiebreakers – while defeating the top two seeds in their flight,” said MSHS coach Derek Sandstrom, who added he was really pleased to see the Redettes win the No. 4 doubles title.

Juniors VanRemortel and Jennings, with just two losses on the season, provided Kingsford with the No. 2 doubles crown by beating the Miners’ Kylee Taavola and Hanna Kantola 6-0, 7-6 (8). Taavola is one of five Negaunee seniors in the starting lineup.

“The U.P.’s , even more so than the conference, you’ve got to get points at every flight,” Saari said. “That’s what it came down to and we knew that coming in. If we were able to do that we’d still be in the discussion.

“But it comes down to depth and Kingsford had a little more

that us.”