BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Prepping his team for the upcoming regional and perhaps beyond, De La Salle Collegiate coach Matt Fisher liked what he saw Saturday at the Catholic League tennis tournament in Bloomfield Hills.
Comprised of all Catholic League teams - big and small - for the first time, the Pilots were pitted against many of the best teams in the state. The 10-team field included six state-ranked teams, including the No. 1 team in all divisions, Ann Arbor Greenhills.
The Gryphons nearly swept the competition, en route to the Cardinal Division championship. De La Salle finished a respectable sixth overall, and Fisher was pleased with the results.
"I think the boys were a little overwhelmed with the competition here. This is the first time they've combined all the teams. We haven't seen Brother Rice in years," said Fisher, whose team won at least a match at six of the eight flights. "We're getting them better competition, so I'm hoping they're getting more comfortable seeing these schools."
Greenhills swept the singles and won at 1-2-4 doubles, accumulating an impressive 60 team points. Cranbrook was runner-up with 40 points. The Cranes won the other flight championship at No. 2 doubles. Brother Rice was third with 38, followed by U-D Jesuit (35), Catholic Central (29), De La Salle (11), Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (9), Liggett (9), Divine Child (8), and Riverview Gabriel Richard (0).
The Pilots had two flights win the back draw in the consolation bracket. At No. 3 singles, junior Alek Beginin defeated Father Gabriel Richard's Rafid Farjo, 8-2, in the consolation final. He had dropped his opening-round match to Catholic Central before bouncing back to top Liggett to set up his match with Farjo.
At No. 2 doubles, seniors Gabriel Kirck and Matthew Zanotti dropped a heartbreaker to Catholic Central in the first round but bounced back with wins over Riverview Gabriel Richard and Liggett.
"Getting past the first round of states is my goal for everyone and today my 2-doubles and 3-singles played well," said Fisher, who said he has bigger goals for his team this season. "They are my kind of automatic flights. It all depends on the draw at states, but I think they can score well for us. My other flights, everybody beat who they were supposed to beat and lost to the higher-ranked teams than us."
Among those who won matches and scored for their teams were junior Joseph Janusch at 2-singles, seniors Parker Kuchulan and Devon Sheth at 3-doubles, and Luke Boldman and Matthew Kostuch at 4-doubles. They each won front-draw matches to earn two points apiece for their team.
The Pilots will face Utica Eisenhower Tuesday in a dual match before heading off to Division 2 regional competition Friday - hosted by Grosse Pointe North. De La Salle and the host Norsemen are the favorites to come out of the regional and advance to states, where the Pilots finished with two points a year ago.
"I hope that this (CHSL Tournament) is all a great learning experience for them," Fisher said. "I'm hoping they can go into states with more confidence because we've seen these kinds of teams. We can compete with them."
Catholic League Tennis Tournament
(At Sacred Heart/Marian)
TEAM SCORES: 1. Ann Arbor Greenhills 60, Cranbrook 40, Brother Rice 36, University of Detroit Jesuit 35, Detroit Catholic Central 29, Warren De La Salle 11, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 9, Liggett 9, Divine Child 9, Riverview Gabriel Richard 0
CHAMPIONSHIP SINGLES: 1. Mert Oral (AAG) d. J.J. Etterbeek (BR) 6-4, 6-3; 2. Kaan Oral (AAG) d. Doug Prew (BR) 6-7, 6-2, 6-2; 3. Rishi Verma (AAG) d. Mauricio Barrera (CC) 6-1, 6-2; 4. Chakor Rajendra (AAG) d. Patrick Tiwari 6-3, 6-4
CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES: 1. Sahil Deenadayalu-Henry Branch (AAG) d. Kagan Shetterly-Theodore Yaldoo (UDJ) 6-3, 7-6 (7); 2. Joey Formicola-Daniel Stojanov (AAG) d. John Dahmer-Charlie Young 6-3, 6-3; 3. Enzo Martella-Sebs Taubman (CK) d. Teodore Melnyczuk-Gould-Nathan Comerford 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; 4. Alex Schendeman-Thomas Zeng (AAG) d. Calvi Teste-Ben Conti 6-4, 6-1
CONSOLATION SINGLES: 1. Joe Steele (UDJ) d. Josh Stanek (DC) 8-1; 2. George Yaldoo (UDJ) d. Tommy Heegan (FGR) ; 3. Alek Beginin (DLS) d. Rafid Farjo (FGR) 8-2; 4. Ed Moon (FGR) d. Steve Lubera (DLS) 8-0
CONSOLATION DOUBLES: 1. Cameron Allen-Kyle Rodrigues (CC) d. Bryce Grover-Mike Swortzel (FGR) 8-5; 2. Gabriel Kirck-Matt Zanotti (DLS) d. Bennett French-Campbell Marchal (LIG); 3. Alex Deimel-Rocco Scarfone (LIG) d. James Petersen-Adam Ware (DC) 8-4; 4. Bode Neumeister-Tarun Jarial (LIG) d. Aiden Rund-Stephan Balash (DC) 8-4.