BOYS TENNIS: Shorthanded Holly wins regional championship
BY DAN STICKRADT
FLUSHING — Winning a regional championship is an accomplishment all in its own. Winning a regional crown shorthanded is another story.
Holly pulled off both Thursday on the tennis courts of Flushing High School.
The Bronchos repeated as regional champs, earning the title with 16 points despite a hole in their lineup with the void of its No. 2 singles player, Evin Vergith, who sat out with an injury.
Holly, which repeated as regional champs, soared into the finals in five of the eight flights and came away with four champions to win by two points. Flushing finished second with 14 points to grab the other team qualifying spot.
The top two teams, all teams scoring 18 or more points, and the finalists at No. 1 singles, all advance to the Lower Peninsula Division 2 state championships Oct. 18-19 in Holland, where the tournament will be played at multiple sights.
Alpena finished a distant third with eight points, while Fenton (7), Lapeer East (7), Ortonville Brandon (3), Swartz Creek (1) and Bay City Central (0) rounded out the team scores in the eight-school field.
“I was a little (apprehensive) missing our No. 2 singles player, but the other guys stepped up and we were able to win,” said Holly coach Will Sophiea. “It was a total team effort. For the seniors, it was their third regional championship in four years. Two years ago, we were second at the regional and lost by only one point. We were that close to winning four in a row.”
It marks Holly’s 17th straight trip to the state finals, as the Bronchos last missed in 1997.
“To be honest, I don’t know for sure. I do know it’s been a long time since we missed out,” said Sophiea, whose team also won the Flint Metro League championship the previous week. “We are just happy to be going. When you are not at full strength, you have to have others step up.”
Jeff Sophiea, the coach’s brother, downed Alpena’s Abram Purol, 6-1, 6-2, to claim his first regional crown at No. 1 singles.
Holly’s Cuthbert and Taylor Mills joined forces to win the No. 2 doubles crown with a 6-0, 6-2 sweep of Flushing’s Phillip Wu and Joe Montpas.
The Bronchos’ Zac Goodrich and Dillon Sink teamed up for a win at No. 3 doubles, toppling Andrew Olszewski and Mitch Koch 6-0, 6-0 in the finals.
At No. 4 doubles, it was Holly’s unit of Morgan Baylis and Aaron Vergith rolling to a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over the Flushing duo of Eli Hallandal and Matt Karas.
For Mills and Goodrich, it was their fourth regional crown apiece. Cuthbert captured his third regional title during his career.
Holly also finished with one flight runner-up and two semifinalists to account for their win.
Flushing’s Aaron Adams (No. 2 singles), Flushing’s Chris Newman (No.3 singles) and Lapeer East’s Keaton Pnacek (No. 4 singles) were the other flight winners in singles play.
In doubles play, Alpena’s Noah Barney and Steinke Samyak Harsh emerged victorious at No. 1 doubles to conclude the flight winners.
DIVISION 2 REGIONAL
(Oct. 10 at Flushing H.S.)
TEAM SCORES — 1. Holly, 16; 2. Flushing, 14; 3. Alpena, 8; 4. Fenton, 7; 5. Lapeer East, 7; 6. Ortonville-Brandon, 3; 7. Swartz Creek, 1; 8. Bay City Central, 0.
SINGLES — 1. Jeff Sophiea (Holly) d. Abram Purol (Alpena) 6-1, 6-2; 2. Aaron Adams (Flushing) d. Andre Gagnon (Alpena) 6-3, 6-1; 3. Chris Newman (Flushing) d. Dylan Graves (Lapeer East) 6-1, 6-0; 4. Keaton Pnacek (Lapeer East) d. Will Moller (Holly) 7-5, 6-0.
DOUBLES — 1. Noah Barney-Steinke-Samyak Harsh (Alpena) d. Nick Donley-Matt Hoff (Flushing) 6-4, 7-6 (1); 2. Parker Cuthbert-Taylor Mills (Holly) d. Phillip Wu-Joe Montpas (Flushing) 6-0, 6-2; 3. Zac Goodrich-Dillon Sink (Holly) d. Andrew Olszewski-Mitch Koch (Flushing) 6-0, 6-0; 4. Morgan Baylis-Aaron Vergith (Holly) d. Eli Hallandal-Matt Karas (Flushing) 6-1, 6-1.
FOR MORE TENNIS COVERAGE: http://northoaklandsports.com/?s=Tennis&x=13&y=4
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)