Tigers win six flight titles en route to regional crown
The flight finals at the Division 3 girls’ tennis regional in Allegan could have been mistaken for a dual match between the host Tigers and Holland Christian.
Allegan and the Maroons met in six of the eight flight finals, with the Tigers emerging victorious in five of those matches as part of six flight title overall.
As a result, Allegan finished with 29 points to claim the regional title, followed closely by Holland Christian with 26.
Hamilton was third with 15 points, Plainwell was fourth with eight points, Pennfield was fifth with seven points, Wayland was sixth with five points, Otsego was seventh with four points and Paw Paw and South Haven tied for eighth with one point.
Allegan coach Jen Aldrich knew getting past Holland Christian would be no easy task.
“It was a great team effort all day,” she said “It is always a battle with Holland Christian. They are a very good team with good coaching. It was nice to go in seeded No. 1 at five flights and come away with six flight champions.”
Emma Ruga was the lone Allegan player not seeded No. 1 to win her flight.
Competing at No. 2 singles, Ruga was seeded second behind Holland Christian’s Maggie Shoemaker. That pair met in the finals, with Ruga surviving for the 7-6 (6) win in the opening set before taking the second set 6-1.
It was the first individual regional championship for Ruga, a senior.
“Emma played a tight first set in the finals, but then she was able to relax and she dominated the second set,” Aldrich said.
Regan Fales joined Ruga in claiming a singles flight for Allegan, winning at No. 1. Fales didn’t lose a single game in her first two sets in advance of her finals showdown with Holland Christian’s Angela Burke, which Fales won 6-0, 6-2.
The other four flight titles came at doubles, where Allegan swept.
“Our doubles played strong all day long,” Aldrich said. “They are playing very aggressive and with high intensity right now.”
The No. 1 team of Emma Philippus and Nicole Galloway had the toughest test in the finals, holding off the Holland Christian team of Lilly Mouw and Annie Sikkel to win 6-3, 7-6 (5).
The No. 2 team of Jasper Harrington and Elizabeth Hill beat Holland Christian’s Mallory Jackson and Hannah Vandenberg 6-1, 6-2; the No. 3 team of Delaney Heckman and Maddy Layton beat Holland Christian’s Elise Bol and Gabi Spoelhof 6-2, 6-4; and the No. 4 team of Krista Kocur and Maddie Wagner beat Pennfield’s Hannah Davis and Delaney Hollins 6-1, 6-1.
Aubrey DeBoer finished runner-up at No. 3 singles after falling to Holland Christian’s Hope Rhoades 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the finals.
“Aubrey played her best tennis of the season,” Aldrich said. “It was so good to see. She has been working hard at practice and it is finally paying off for her.”
Taryn Orr fell in the semifinals at No. 4 singles.
Next up for Allegan is an appearance at the Division 3 state finals in Novi starting Friday, May 31.
“The challenge we have ahead is to stay focused and hungry,” Aldrich said. “There are two weeks before the state finals. We have scheduled two good Division 2 state-qualifying teams to scrimmage. We need to keep up the intensity and drive to push each other every day at practice. We can’t let up. We can’t lose our focus.”
Hamilton’s best showing came from Aubree Folkert at No. 4 singles. Folkert, who entered as the second seed, fell to top-seeded Marissa Baker from Holland Christian 6-4, 6-0 in the finals.
Plainwell had three flights—No. 1 Loghan Scheonrock, No. 3 singles Ashlyn Thom and No. 4 singles Laura Greif—reach the semis, while No. 1 singles Lauren Layman reached the semis for Otsego. For Wayland, No. 2 singles Megan Kerber and the No. 3 doubles team of Sydney Hielkema and Lauren Drew made it to the semis.