Tennis: Pioneer captures share of Division 1 state title

The Pioneer girls’ tennis team netted a state championship last weekend, although they do have to share the title. Both Pioneer and Bloomfield Hills finished with 30 points at the MHSAA Division 1 State Finals on June 5 at Mason High School.

Fittingly, the two teams tied 4-4 during a regular-season match.

Birmingham Seaholm was second with 20 points followed by Grosse Pointe South (16), Midland Dow (16), Troy (16), Holland West Ottawa (14), Northville (13) and Novi (9). Skyline was 12th with 6 points and Huron finished 16th with four points.

Like they have all season, the Pioneer singles teams were dominant. They all entered the state championship as No. 1 seeds and all left as No. 1 winners. The four combined lost only one set (at four singles) and went a combined 48-8 in their games on Saturday – and this was the state finals.

“I’ve been coaching for 30 years and I’ve had some of the finest players in the state, boys and girls,” says legendary Pioneer Coach Tom Pullen. “And I’ve never had a singles lineup like this, and who went through the season undefeated, and undefeated in such ways that you can’t imagine – so few games lost in the season. Some of them lost fewer than 10 games the entire season. It’s just really astounding.”

Bloomfield Hills coach Chris Dobson said he couldn’t be happier with a co-championship and served up plenty of praise for the team they will forever share the title.

“A championship is a championship; there’s no asterisk by it,” he said. “Pioneer has a powerhouse lineup at singles like I’ve never seen. So, for what we had to do and how we had to battle, to share it with a phenomenal team, there certainly is no shame in that whatsoever.”

Reese Miller, whose sister Karina plays tennis at Michigan, took first at No. 1 singles and defeated a familiar foe in the finals. The Pioneer ace defeated Skyline’s Sari Woo 6-0, 6-1 in the championship match. Woo, a number six seed, served her way to the finals by knocking off Midland Dow’s Zoe Angell, the second seed, 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.

But back to Miller. After she earned a first-round bye, the super sophomore cruised through the tournament, winning 6-0, 6-1; 6-1, 6-0; and 6-0, 6-1 before the finals.

“I was pretty confident in everyone coming in, since we’re the No. 1 seeds,” said Miller. “We were all undefeated except two losses I had to a really great player (Detroit Country Day’s Julia Fliegner) in another division (3). That confidence helped all of us, and we all felt that ‘we got this, we know we can do it.’ But I knew we’d still have some tough matches. Everyone (at states) is good.

“My finals opponent (Zoe Angell, Midland Dow) is really good, and our matches this season have been much closer than the final scores indicated. But I was excited. I’ve never played in states before because of last year getting canceled.”

Pioneer’s Elsie Van Wieren also blazed through at No. 2 singles. She lost just four games before beating Seaholm’s Sofia Gryzenia 6-0, 6-0 in the finals.

At No. 3 singles, junior Mia Goldstein defeated Bloomfield Hills Grace Shaya 6-1, 6-1 in the finals.

“I’m super proud of the girls this weekend,” Goldstein said as all the doubles matches were still underway. “I know we came in with pretty high expectations, being the No. 1 seeds all the way around. And I know my girls are all fighters, so I knew that even if we were having an off day, we could compete our hearts out.

“I think it’s pretty crazy that we swept singles. I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but I’m just really proud of everyone and the team spirit we had (Saturday).”

Bridgette Kelly defeated Bloomfield Hills Julia Yousif 6-3, 6-2 in the finals at four singles.

Pioneer’s No. 1 doubles team of Ashley Capelli and Juliana Pullen reached the quarterfinals before falling 6-1, 6-2. The number two doubles team of Shruthi Chakravarthy and Mia Berens reached the semifinals before losing a tough 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 match to Troy.

At three doubles, the Pioneer team of Aditi Ganesan and Eleanor Vogel also reached the semifinals before losing to Troy 6-1, 6-2. Pioneer’s four doubles team of Lauren Longpre and Chloe Waren won their first match before falling 6-2, 6-3 to Grosse Pointe South.

Special thanks to Tom Lang (MHSSA), who contributed to this report.

Photo: Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Reese Miller returns a volley during her No. 1 singles championship win. Photo courtesy of MHSAA