By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org and DENNIS CHASE email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City St. Francis tied its own school best with five seeded players in today’s Division 4 state tennis finals at Grand Blanc.
The last time the Gladiators had five finals seeds was 2007-08.
The Gladiators also earned their top state ranking this week, moving up in the coaches association poll from No. 5 to No. 4.
“Now we have to live up to those expectations,” St. Francis coach Paul Bandrowski said.
Jack Krcmarik — who recently entered the MHSAA record books for putting together a 25-match winning streak — earned a No. 4 seed at No. 3 singles. He’s 31-3 this season.
The No. 2 doubles team of Brady Ray and Nathan Tafelsky (26-11) and the No. 4 doubles tandem of Ryan Navin and Jackson Richmond (24-13) are also No. 4 seeds.
Bandrowski thinks Navin/Richmond have a good shot at a long run.
“If they play up to their potential, I can see them making a long run,” Bandrowski said. “We have a tough road generally as a team.”
Patrick Burke (24-12) is seeded fifth at No. 4 singles.
Gus Danz is seeded sixth at No. 2 singles after a 28-9 season in which six of his setbacks came against schools from higher divisions.
Traverse City Central has one seeded flight — the No. 2 doubles pairing of Parker Berden and Yani Beeker, which earned a No. 5 spot and a first-round bye in the Division 1 finals at Midland. The Trojans’ other seven flights have first-round matches against foes that are likewise unseeded.
“It was not a good draw,” Central coach Larry Nykerk said.
Nykerk said three teams — Ann Arbor Huron, Birmingham Brother Rice and Novi — will probably battle it out for the title.
He said cracking the top six will be difficult.
“Division 1 is so deep,” he said. “There are so many good teams here. Even though we didn’t get a good draw, we’re playing really well. The guys have improved so much. We need to do what we did at regionals — win two or three matches we’re not supposed to win. We’re going to bring it. We’re playing our best tennis of the season. Whatever happens, happens.”
Petoskey and Cadillac qualified in Division 3 at Kalamazoo College, but don’t have any seeded flights.
Harbor Springs’ Sam Dart qualified as an individual at No. 1 singles in Division 4 and has a first-round bye.