BY DENNIS CHASE email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central hopes to end a five-year regional tennis title drought today.
The Trojans enter play in the 11-team Division 1 field at the Midland Tennis Center as the favorite.
Central had won 12 Division 1 regional championships in a row before dropping down to Division 2 five years ago. That’s where the Trojans ran into powerhouse Forest Hills Northern, finishing second in the regional all five years. During that span, Forest Hills Northern won four state crowns and placed second the other year.
“They kept us off the board,” Central coach Larry Nykerk said. “We were only two points off last year.”
Now back in Division 1, the Trojans appear ready to reclaim regional dominance. Central is seeded No. 1 in five of the eight flights. The Trojans are the No. 2 seed in the other three flights. Dow earned two No. 1 seeds and Traverse City West one.
“I’m really hungry to get a regional (today),” Nykerk said.
Central comes in ranked No. 5 — the 10th consecutive year the Trojans have been ranked in the top 5.
Earning No. 1 seeds are Paige Cooley (23-3) at No. 1 singles, Kelly Milliken (22-4) at No. 2 singles, Leah Potter-Katie Raymond (23-3) at No. 2 doubles, Devon Dotterrer and Abby Palisin (23-3) at No. 3 doubles and Amelia Pezzetti and Molly Whiting (25-1) at No. 4 doubles.
Drawing No. 2 seeds are Christi Druskovich (20-6) at No. 3 singles, Taylor Weckstein (22-4) at No. 4 singles and Kitty Mast and Elizabeth Pappas (21-5) at No. 1 doubles.
“We have a lot of depth,” Nykerk said. “We’re pretty solid all the way through our lineup.”
Druskovich and Weckstein both lost three-setters to the No. 1 seeds in their flights — Dow’s Afoa Ofori-Darko and Nicole Dobrzelewski.
West’s Monica Hessler and Sydney Diss are seeded No. 1 at No. 1 doubles. Hessler and Diss beat Mast and Pappas earlier this week to lock down the top seed.
Meanwhile in the Division 4 regional at Traverse City Central, Ludington and St. Francis are expected to battle for the crown. Harbor Springs could also be in the mix. Ludington is the defending regional champion.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see them in the regular season,” St. Francis coach Jeff Hughes said. “But they always have a great program.
“I expect it will be a barn-burner. I think a year ago it came down to the last couple of matches.”
Coaches will meet prior to the 10 a.m. start to seed the field. Hughes thinks the Gladiators will be seeded in every flight.
“Everyone of our lines is going to be a force,” he said. “I think from top to bottom this could be our strongest team.”
The Gladiators have five freshmen in their lineup, including Amanda Bandrowski at No. 1 singles. She’s 22-1 with her only loss to Traverse City Central’s Paige Cooley.
“She’s been tearing it up,” Hughes said.
Two other freshmen, Carlee McCardel and Bethany Richey, will be a team to watch at No. 4 doubles.
St. Francis is hosting the 10-team event.