By Jason Wesseldyk
ANN ARBOR—The Otsego girls tennis team made a little history on Saturday, June 3.
Making it to at least the quarterfinals in five flights, the Bulldogs amassed 11 points to finish in a tie for sixth place. Not only did that make Otsego the highest-placing public school, but it also marked the highest finish the program had ever secured.
Allegan tied for 10th with eight points.
“It can be challenging having a two-week gap between regionals and the State Finals,” Otsego coach Jen Aldrich said. “This group stayed focused and kept challenging themselves to improve. They really used those practices and scrimmages to continue to push themselves and it really showed.
“It has been so rewarding to watch this team grow from the first day of practice in March to the state tournament in June. They sure did come a long way in such a short time. That is a testament to their dedication, work ethic, athleticism and all-around coachability.”
No. 1 single Aly Aldrich had the best showing for the Bulldogs, advancing to the semifinals before falling to the top-seeded player.
“Aly has been exceptional to work with this season due to her work ethic, grit and athleticism,” Otsego assistant coach Taylor Smith said. “Being a multi-sport athlete has pushed Aly to be successful on the tennis court. The best is yet to come for Aly. I expect her to have an amazing senior season.”
The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals in four other flights: No. 2 singles Lexi Layman, No. 3 singles Karoliin Moksi, No. 2 doubles Sophie Maxwell/Sydney Holland and No. 4 doubles Madison Uramkin/Cierra Swope.
“I was really proud of how our players competed,” Otsego assistant coach Jack Nahikian said. “I love how each flight went out and attacked their challenges and weren’t fearful of the big moments.”
Allegan coach Damien Arthur couldn’t say enough about the effort he saw from his players.
“It was an incredible way to cap off this amazing season,” he said. “The girls truly rose to the occasion and played some great tennis. We pushed through the blazing heat and made another Top 10.”
Addy Fales led the way for Allegan.
Competing at No. 2 singles, Fales advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual state champ Natalie Poortenga from Grand Rapids Christian in the semis.
The No. 1 doubles team of Hailey Fuller/Emma Kuebler and the No. 3 doubles team of Taylor Fuller and Luna Ruiz made it to the quarterfinals.
“I’m incredibly thankful to this group of girls who improved some much with the mental side of tennis,” Arthur said. “We became a new team after our April 26 talk. They believed in my words and took those words into action day in and day out. They continued the great tradition of Allegan tennis. I am one lucky head coach to have so many great people around me.”
Those great people included the team’s assistant coaches.
“Singles coaches Liv Christman and Jesse DeBoer were awesome,” Arthur said. “We started the year very inexperienced with three of our four girls never playing a varsity singles match before. Under the guidance of Liv and Jess, those four ladies had a combined record of 95-26, six regular season tournament champs, all four were conference champs and three of them were regional finalists.
“Christin Kelley deserves a round of applause for keeping our doubles teams from skipping a beat. The eight ladies we had in doubles this year had so much improvement from March. It’s hard to believe where they are at with their game.”