HOLLAND — Cody Richards looked forward to this for a long time.
It just took a little longer than expected.
The Traverse City St. Francis sophomore won the Gladiators’ second boys tennis state championship of the weekend, only his came quite a bit later than the other.
Brendan Chouinard and Ben Schmude took TCSF’s first title Saturday, winning the No. 1 doubles championship at a more conventional afternoon time during Saturday’s Division 4 state finals at Hope College in Holland.
Richards took a lot longer to win the No. 3 singles state championship, through no fault of his own. The flight’s top seed largely breezed through the tournament, dropping no more than three games in any single match.
His semifinal match was moved back until 7 p.m. after West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy’s Eli Grey upset fifth-seeded Kaden Dykstra of Hudsonville Unity on Friday and advanced to Saturday’s semifinals. Frankel doesn’t play any sporting events before sundown on its Sabbath of Saturday as part of the school’s beliefs.
“I’ve never really played that late,” Richards said. “It was pretty fun, actually. All my teammates and coaches got to watch and support me.”
Richards beat Grey 6-2, 6-0, then started his state championship match against Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard’s third-seeded Rafid Farjo around 10 p.m. in the tournament’s final match. Richards beat Farjo 6-1, 6-2 to take the championship.
The Gladiators stayed in Holland an extra night because the No. 3 singles flight took so long to complete.
“It was definitely an interesting situation,” Glads first-year coach Dane Fosgard said. “But we’ve had a lot of long days this season that helped us. (Cody) was pumped, so he would have won at three in the morning.”
Richards’ win over Gabriel Richard moved St. Francis into a tie with that same team for fourth place in the team standings, as five teams were within three points at the top of D-4. Allegan and Kalamazoo Hackett shared the championship with 21 points each, with Farjo’s semifinal win over second-seeded Hackett cementing Allegan’s first tennis state championship.
Grosse Pointe Liggett ended up third with 20 points and St. Francis and Gabriel Richard tied for fourth at 18. Allegan won the title without taking first place in any flight.
Richards has a shot at hitting 100 career victories next season as a junior. He posted a 31-12 record at No. 4 singles last year, advancing to the championship match before settling for runner-up honors. This season, he racked up a 34-7 record to give him 65 wins in two campaigns.
“I was really looking to be No. 1 or 2 singles, but that didn’t work out,” Richards said. “Our top three are very close. So I thought I had a good opportunity to win at states. It felt pretty good to come back and have the opportunity to win.”