Finding their stride:
The Allegan girls’ tennis team entered the Wolverine Conference Tournament as winners of 10 straight league championships on Friday, May 8.
In order to make it 11 in a row, Tiger coach Jennifer Aldrich knew she would need to get solid contributions from several players new to the varsity level of play.
“We graduated seven players last year so we have a lot of new faces on the team this year,” Aldrich said.
If those newcomers were feeling any nerves, it certainly didn’t show in their play.
Allegan won six of the eight flight championships and finished runner-up in the other two as it ended the tournament with 94 points to take top honors.
Sturgis, which won the other two flight titles, finished second with 84 points, while Edwardsburg was third with 76 points. Otsego wound up seventh with 47 points and Plainwell was ninth with 39 points.
“The new girls fought hard, had so much drive and handled the pressure well for their first conference championship,” Aldrich said. “They’ve grown a lot as players and individuals and have really worked hard to get to this point.”
It was that growth that made this league title stand out as compared to some of the others.
“Every single championship is special,” Aldrich said. “This one ranks at the top though. With so many new players and with such a young team, for us to finish with 94 out of a possible 96 points is very impressive. This team has come a long way since (starting practice in) March.”
While the younger players did their part to secure the title, it was the play of the team’s five returning players that set the tone for the championship.
Livia Christman, Karlie Wells, Adrian Rizqallah and Reannon Rizqallah all secured fight championships, while Katelyn Clark and her partner Jacelyn Hinesley were second at No. 2 doubles.
Christman claimed the title at No. 1 singles for the fourth straight season, becoming the first Allegan player to do that. She defeated Sturgis’ Khushi Vakaria 6-0, 6-0 in the final, losing only one game in her three matches for the tournament.
The win in the title match gave Christman 100 for her career, making her only the ninth Allegan player in the program’s history to attain that feat.
Classmate Wells also secured her fourth straight conference crown, upending Sturgis’ Emily Bowman 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 2 singles final.
At No. 1 doubles, the Rizqallahs posted a 6-1, 6-0 victory over their opponents from Edwardsburg in the title match.
For full story, pick up a copy of the May 14 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.