The Allegan tennis team finished atop the regional standings, with Otsego and Lakeshore tying for second place. (Photo provided)
By Jason Wesseldyk
OTSEGO—Of the three state-ranked teams participating in the Division 3 girls tennis regional at Otsego, Allegan was ranked the lowest at No. 10.
“We went into the tournament thinking we could win it, but we also had the underdog mentality as there were two higher-ranked teams in our region,” Allegan coach Damien Arthur said.
That mentality served the Tigers well, as they finished with 25 points to secure the regional championship. The tournament began on Friday, May 19, and wrapped up on Saturday, May 20, after rain suspended play.
Eighth-ranked Otsego and ninth-ranked Stevensville-Lakeshore tied for second place with 22 points and will join Allegan at the D3 state finals beginning Friday, June 2, at the University of Michigan.
Hamilton placed fourth with 18 points, followed by Hastings (nine), Wayland (three), Paw Paw (two), Plainwell (zero) and Charlotte (zero).
“It was a great weekend to be a member of the Allegan tennis family,” Arthur said. “Taking the regional trophy home really emphasizes how far this team has come compared to where they were at on March 13. The coaching staff is just so incredibly proud of how these young ladies played.”
Depth was key for Allegan, as the Tigers made it to the finals in six of the eight flights.
Allegan finished with three flight champs: No. 2 singles Addy Fales (defeated Hastings’ Carlota Espi Vano 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in the finals; No. 1 doubles Hailey Fuller/Emma Kuebler (defeated Otsego’s Sydney Grile/Anna Moore 6-3, 6-1 in the finals); and No. 3 doubles Taylor Fuller/Luna Ruiz (defeated Hamilton’s Danielle Wedeven/Drew VanHouten 7-5, 6-1 in the finals).
Allegan’s other flight finalists were: No. 3 singles Bristyn Nelson (lost to Lakeshore’s Chloe Arbanas 6-3, 3-6, 6-3); No. 4 singles McKenna Morrie (lost to Lakeshore’s Amber Mealman 6-0, 6-3); and No. 2 doubles Grace Davis/Ragen Meeter (lost to Otsego’s Sydney Holland/Sophie Maxwell 5-7, 6-3, 6-3).
“Pride, grit and pure joy comes to mind when reflecting on what this team accomplished,” Arthur said.
Otsego coach Jen Aldrich also had plenty to be proud of as her team qualified for the state finals for the third straight year.
“I’m very proud of the way our team has improved throughout the season,” she said. “Having to fill five flights on a team from last year is quite the task. It has been so rewarding to watch their growth.”
No. 1 singles Aly Aldrich joined the No. 2 doubles team of Holland and Maxwell as a flight champion for Otsego.
Aly Aldrich beat Lakeshore’s Josie Arbanas 6-1, 6-3 in the finals, giving her a third consecutive regional title.
Otsego’s No. 4 doubles team of Madison Uramkin/Cierra Swope also made it to the finals, where they dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Lakeshore’s Maddie Hawks/Ella Brown.
“With having three ranked teams in our regional tournament, I think there were some nerves to start out,” Otsego assistant coach Tyler Aldrich said. “However, our team had some great wins over some very strong opponents.”
Jen Aldrich believes her team still has more to give.
“I’m excited to see how much more we can improve in the next two weeks before the state tournament, “she said. “These girls are so eager to keep improving.”