From staff reports
MIDLAND — Traverse City Central did better than expected Thursday.
The Trojans, who entered the Division I tennis regional here with three No. 1 seeds, claimed five flights in defending their title. Central finished with 27 points. Midland placed second with 21 and Grand Blanc third with 20. All three advance to next weekend’s state finals, which will also be held in Midland. Traverse City West tied for fifth with six points.
The Trojans scored points in all eight flights and reached the finals in six.
“Everybody contributed,” coach Larry Nykerk said. “You couldn’t ask for any more.”
Central and Midland were tied with 21 points late in the day. But that’s when the Trojans took control, beating the Chemics in three head-to-head matches in the finals.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Nykerk, who was named regional coach of the year. “There were some dramatics.”
Nick Yergens (32-8), a No. 2 seed at No. 4 singles, had the most exciting day with two three-setters. In his second match, Yergens beat No. 3 seed Drew Davis of Midland 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, then followed it up by knocking off top-seed Ben Walters of Grand Blanc 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4) for the title.
The No. 4 doubles team of Spencer Kroupa and Michael Mendertsma (30-10), a No. 3 seed, pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, downing No. 1 seed Alex Jewel and Nathan Hout of Midland 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-1 in the finals.
Central swept doubles. At No. 1, Hayden Drury and Caleb Heimburger (36-5) beat Midland’s Yoodong Hwang and Eric Mier 6-2, 6-3 in the finals. At No. 2, Parker Berden and Yani Beeker (35-5) defeated Grand Blanc’s Josh McKenzie and Arth Patel 6-1, 6-0 for the title. At No. 3, Jack Seymour and Austin Wieland (34-6) topped Midland’s Josh Hentschel and Brendan Doyle 7-6(5), 6-4 to claim the flight.
Cam Young won two matches at No. 3 singles before losing to Grand Blanc in the finals. Skylar Norgaard and Max Knoblock won one match apiece at Nos. I and 2 singles.
The Trojans won the regional last year with 26 points, but surpassed that total, thanks to winning two flights in which they were the lower seed.
“That means they’re beating people they lost to before,” Nykerk said. “Any coach would love that.”