For the third year in a row, the Sturgis boys tennis team finished second in the annual Wolverine Conference Tournament. The fifth-ranked Allegan Tigers were once again crowned champions to make it three consecutive titles. Three Rivers was seventh.
The tournament was played in Allegan, Otsego and Plainwell, with many of the earlier matches contested indoors at Allegan due to rain.
The No. 4 doubles team of Andy Burg and Raymond Chen were the sole flight champions for the Trojans. Burg and Chen started their tournament with an easy 6-0, 6-0 win over Cole Rogers and Eli Saucedo of Otsego. The semifinal match for the pair was far more difficult. Braedon Rhodes and Sam Gernaat of Plainwell jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on the Trojans before Burg and Chen took a pair of games to bring the score to 5-2. The Trojans lost the next game and the set 6-2 but carried the momentum into the second set.
As the momentum flowed back and forth, Burg and Chen took the second set 6-4. The Trojans never gave the Plainwell pair a glimmer of hope in the third set as they cruised to a 6-0 win.
In the finals, Burg and Chen faced Jacob Henderson and Andrew Reno of Vicksburg. The Vicksburg pair were coming off their own thrilling three-set victory over Allegan in the semis. In another close match, Burg and Chen took the championship in straight sets 6-2, 7-5.
In addition to the sole championship, the Trojans earned a handful of runner-up finishes as well. Joe Wynes made it to the finals at No. 1 singles after a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Michael Blanchard of Otsego and a default win over Tyler Aldrich of Allegan. Wynes was defeated in the finals by Corentin Zicot of Paw Paw 6-3, 6-0.
Also finishing in second place for the Trojans was Zach Perry. Perry won his first-round match at No. 2 singles over Isaac Clemens of Otsego 6-0, 6-2. In the semifinals, Perry battled Brandon Day of Allegan in one of the best matches of the tournament. Perry lost the first set 6-4 and was down 5-1 in the second. Perry came back to even the set at 5-5 but was forced to save a match point at 5-6 in the second set. Perry went on to win the second set tiebreaker before winning the third set 6-2.
Perry faced Connor Seifert of Vicksburg in the final. For the second time this season, Perry was unable to solve Seifert’s mix of consistency and pace and came up short 6-3, 6-4.
Nico Ledesma at third singles continued the string of runner-up performances. He easily defeated Garrett Smith of South Haven 6-2, 6-1 and Connor Welling of Paw Paw in the semi-finals 6-1, 6-1. In the finals Ledesma faced Kody Harrington of Allegan. Pending the results of this week’s regionals, Harrington is expected to be one of the top seeds at this year’s MHSAA state tournament.
In what might have been the heaviest hitting match in the tournament, Ledesma and Harrington battled through several lengthy rallies. Unfortunately for Ledesma, the last great shot of many points was by Harrington. After losing the first set 6-0, Ledesma began to find some holes in Harrington’s defense in the second set to take a 3-2 lead. Harrington fought back and defeated a frustrated Ledesma 6-3 for the championship.
The No. 1 doubles team of Isaac Harper and Ethan Andrews completed the Trojan’s run of runner-up finishes losing to Zach Sisson and Alex Babbitt of Allegan 6-0, 6-1 in the finals. Harper and Andrews started their day off with an easy 6-0, 6-0 win over Nate Ossino and Nash Smith of Otsego. In the semifinals, Harper and Andrews faced Trenton Opel and Jeremy VanOosterum of Plainwell.
Harper and Andrews won a back and forth first set by dominating the set tiebreaker 7-1. The second set was similarly back and forth but the Trojans pair dropped the second set 7-5. Harper and Andrews took the third and deciding set 6-3.
Finishing third for the Trojans at their respective flights were Tyler Bohacz at No. 4 singles and the No. 3 doubles team of Austin St. Louis and Justin Burch.
Bohacz was filling in for Hersh Vakharia but did not let the big jump in competition affect him. Despite normally playing No. 2 singles on the junior varsity, Bohacz won his opening round match against Caleb Harrington of Plainwell 6-3, 6-0. In the semis, Bohacz lost to the eventual flight champion Zeke Carter of Allegan 6-0, 6-1. In the third-place match, Bohacz defeated David Rutt of Vicksburg 6-1, 3-6, 10-6.
Also at No. 4 singles, Tim Lingk of Three Rivers scored eight of the Wildcats’ 22 points by taking second place. Lingk defeated William Hasted of South Haven 6-3, 6-0 in the first round. Lingk then defeated Rutt 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals. Lingk dropped the championship match to Carter 6-0, 6-0.
St. Louis and Burch won their first-round match at third doubles against Connor Wilson and Jonah Matthews of Paw Paw 6-2, 6-2. In the semis, the pair faced another difficult Plainwell doubles team made up of Reese Comerford and Justin Anderson. The Trojans pair dropped the match 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. In the third-place match, St. Louis and Burch defeated Luc McPherson and Daelan Burd of Otsego 6-4, 6-2.
In the final grouping for the Trojans, Jesse Pattison and junior varsity substitute Derek Garmire won two of their three matches on the way to a fifth-place finish. The pair lost in the first round against Nick Pepple and Josh Debates of Plainwell 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Pattison and Garmire swept their consolation matches defeating South Haven 6-1, 6-3 and Otsego 6-1, 6-4.
Three Rivers’ Jacob Turner ended the day fourth at No. 2 singles. He fell to Brandon Day (Allegan) 6-2, 6-3 in the third-place match.
“We had a couple of first round matches that I thought we should win and didn’t and a couple of first round matches, that we lost and had lost to them earlier in the season and knew going in that we would need to be playing are very best to win them,” Three Rivers coach Scott Turner said. “I am happy that the team put together the points for that seventh-place finish, as we did give up some team points playing without a fourth doubles team.”
Next up is the MHSAA regional tournament for both squads Thursday at Three Rivers and Vicksburg.
Photos by Eric Wynes
Allegan – 65
Sturgis – 60
Vicksburg – 51
Paw Paw – 47
Plainwell – 42
Edwardsburg – 29
Three Rivers – 22
South Haven – 21
Otsego – 20