Successful DLS Tennis Season Paves the Way for More

Fall proved to be a successful season in more ways than one for the De La Salle tennis teams, both athletically and academically.

Varsity tennis qualified for states, a big accomplishment for the team. Not only did varsity tennis finish second in league play, they also finished first at the Armada Quad and second at the Eisenhower tournament with an overall record of 9-5. And, six of their seniors made All-Academic State. 

“The team will be losing a handful of seniors, yet the team's future is bright with many JV players that are eager to take their spots,” said Varsity Tennis Coach Annmarie Michol, who is in her 30th year of coaching. “The returning team will be working hard in the off-season to continue building the program.”

She and her assistant coach/JV tennis coach, Ben Westphal, ’16, have a plan for players to stay in shape with indoor off-season training, while some have already started to train with their club pros. Westphal said, “Hitting at least once a week or every other week will continue to keep their skill levels up. Stay active and continue to work out as tennis really involves endurance and strength, and play another sport to continue to stay active. 

“Many of our players at DLS are already in training sessions,” he added. “We encourage anyone who is interested in playing tennis next year to come and see us so we can work out details of how we can organize off-season training for them.” 

Michol agreed: “Coach Ben and I are continually seeking out new players that are not involved in a fall sport to continue to build the strength of our program.”

The JV program is looking well, especially as they move closer to the varsity level, said Westphal. With an 11-1 JV tennis record, “we also entered into our first tournament in three to four years (Romeo JV Quad) and placed third amongst competitive teams,” he said. “Our future looks SO bright with the younger student-athletes working very hard and performing well.” 

Both coaches have high hopes for their teams. “Our hope is for our tennis teams to continue to grow and progress,” said Westphal, who also teaches English at the school. “Our goals are always to make it back to states again, to win the CHSL, and to win regionals. 

“However, the most important goal is for each and every player to grow and develop,” he stressed. “This development is what we as coaches work for every day.  It simply starts with the effort and time commitment that each player puts in.” 

And, “for every player to have fun,” Westphal added. “Our practices are very unique. We try to not only incorporate drills, but we incorporate the drills into competitive games that will bring out the best in all student-athletes. It also allows us to work with each player on how we can help them work on techniques to develop and grow.”

Michol and Westphal have plenty of coaching experience behind them. With Michol’s 30 years of coaching and 25 years of teaching, “I am so proud to be back home coaching,” she said. 

She will be honored with a 30-year plaque this season from the state and will be presented the girls' state coach of the year award for Division I. Michol also received the overall state coach of the year for all state divisions. 

“See what happens when you get old,” she said and laughed. “This honor is because of all my players. My players have brought the best out in my coaching abilities - it is a lifetime sport that I is the greatest feeling to see how far you can take each individual player each season.”

Besides serving as DLS curriculum administrator, English teacher, academic affairs coordinator, and student council moderator, Michol revealed she has more to put on to her plate: “I competed at the high school level and the college level along with competing at the travel level (up until six years ago) because my daughters were involved in many sports and it was their time,” she said. “I want to start training again and look forward to competing at that level soon.”

Westphal began coaching in 2021 at Utica High School, when Michol invited him to assist her that season. “Ever since then, I have loved coaching the lifelong sport of tennis to all the student-athletes,” he said. 

He was inspired by his mom who introduced him to the game, having played for Jackson Lumeni Christi through high school. “We would constantly go to the local tennis courts and hit for fun,” he recalled.  

Westphal and Michol are especially grateful for the support they’ve received for their teams this past season. “We worked so hard to make Pilot Nation proud,” said Westphal. “At both the JV and varsity levels, we were a dominant force in the county, in the CHSL, and the state. We are so proud of what we have accomplished this season.  

“Thank you to Pilot Nation for all the support!” he said. “Thank you to all of the Pilots, parents, faculty/staff, and alumni who have come out to support our teams! We truly are grateful and appreciative of the support. Go, Pilots!”


The DLS Varsity Tennis team earned numerous honors this season:

  • Macomb County Division 2,3,4 Team of the Year 

  • All-Academic State Team

  • All-Academic State Seniors: Max Livingston, Jacob Hubbs, Gianmarco Rizzo, Cameron Conklin, Dan Fergan, Joe Olejniczak

League Honors:

  • All-Catholic: Max Livingston and Braeden Holder

  • All-League: Josh Opolski and Jacob Hubbs

County Honors:

  • First Team All-County Singles: Max Livingston

  • 2nd Team Singles: Braeden Holder, Mark Gerardi, Gabe Fischer 

  • Dream Team Doubles: Josh Opolski and Jacob Hubbs

  • 1st Team Doubles: Gianmarco Rizzo & Cameron Conklin; and Joey Youngblood & Dan Fergan 

  • 2nd Team Doubles: Mark Gjokaj and Joe Olejniczak 

Successful DLS Tennis Season Paves the Way for More
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