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Beline Obeid

Players enjoy success at invite

Left, Liggett's T.J. Dulac played well in the Knights' invitational matches. Right, North's Nick Cusmano, above, and his No. 1 doubles partner, Connor Olzem, are ready for the challenges ahead. photo by Renato Jamett.

October 03, 2013
The three high school boys' tennis teams, Grosse Pointe North, Grosse Pointe South and University Liggett, competed last weekend at the annual Liggett Invitational.

The players enjoyed perfect fall weather conditions and the competition on the court came from some of the state's best teams, including Ann Arbor Greenhills, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Utica Eisenhower and Birmingham Seaholm.

South's Doug Kubek is playing better tennis at the No. 2 singles flight. Photos by Renato Jamett
"We really enjoyed the tournament and our kids had a chance to play some great competition as we prepare for the state regionals," South head coach John Willard said.

Pioneer won the invitational, followed by South. North and Liggett finished in the middle of the pack.

The Blue Devils had five flight finalists. Unfortunately, all five lost to take silver medals.

Nick Paolucci played the match of the day, losing in three sets to Pioneer's Ivan Rakic. Everyone was glued to their seats, watching this heavyweight battle at No. 1 singles.

Patrick Willard also made the finals, but lost at No. 3 singles. To Pioneer's Marcello Salas.

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On the doubles side of things, Stephen Van Walleghem and Mikey Schaller lost in the No. 2 finals to Pioneer's Evan Miller-Galow and Gabe Kellman, while Brendan Clune and Nick Costakis lost in the No. 3 finals to Pioneer's Bernie Kellman and Jake Arvidson.

The No. 4 doubles squad of Brian L'Heureux and Tomas Garberding lost their title match to round out the competition for the Blue Devils to Seaholm's Brendan Knight and Will Geller.

In addition, South's No. 1 doubles team of Victor Flynn and Will Norris defeated Liggett's Neil Sekhon and James Jurcak in the third-place match.

Neither North nor Liggett had a champion, but both squads had good outcomes as they prepare for their respective regional tournaments.

North's No. 1 doubles team of Connor Olzem and Nick Cusmano made the finals, but lost to Seaholm's Kenji Johnston and Griffin Neel, and North's Matt Kain beat Liggett's Patrick Diaz in the third-place match at No. 2 singles.

At No. 2 doubles, Liggett's Alan Jurcak and August Bonacci went three sets to beat Seaholm's Francisco Lleyva and Andrew Latessa in the third-place match

In dual meet action last week, Grosse Pointe North, under head coach John Van Alst, rolled to an easy 6-2 win over Utica Eisenhower, finishing its league mark at 2-1-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

The Norsemen also traveled to regional foe U-D Jesuit. The two will duke it out for a Division 2 regional championship in two weeks, so the winner of this match had the leg up heading into the showdown.

North lost 8-0, falling to 3-4-1 overall.

Liggett and Grosse Pointe South played at Elworthy with the Blue Devils prevailing 5-3. However, the Knights are creeping closer to the Blue Devils after losing badly to their city rivals the past few seasons.

With the win, South improved to 7-2-1 overall.

"We had some great tennis matches today and it's too bad we came up just short," Liggett head coach Drew Mascarin said. "Our guys are playing with a lot of confidence."

"What a great day to play tennis and it's nice to see the guys play well against Liggett," Willard said.

The Blue Devils won 3-of-4 singles matches with Paolucci beating T.J. Dulac 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1; Patrick Willard defeating Stephen Kneiser 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3; and Isaac Piecuch beating Jeffrey Shell 7-6, 6-4 in a match that could have gone either way at No. 4 singles.

Liggett's Patrick Diaz beat Doug Kubek 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

At doubles, they split the four matches with the Blue Devils' Flynn and Norris beating Neil Sekhon and James Jurcak 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1; and Clune and Costakis beating Jack Ninivaggi and Alex Dow 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3.

At No. 2 doubles, Liggett's Alan Jurcak and Bonacci beat Geron Gosselin and Schaller 6-0, 2-6, 6-2, and at No. 4 doubles it was freshmen Jackson Benning and Davey Sekhon pulling out a stunning 1-6, 7-6, 6-4 win.

The duo trailed 4-0 in the third set before winning the next six games to take the match in three sets.

Liggett also played at the No. 4 ranked team in Division 4, Lansing Catholic, and won 5-3 to improve to 6-4 overall.

Each of three tennis teams is preparing for its respective regional tournament.

South plays a Division 1 regional tournament Thursday, Oct. 10, at Elworthy.

Joining the Blue Devils are Detroit Cass Tech, Fraser, Lathrup Village Lathrup, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Troy, Troy Athens, Warren Mott, Warren Cousino and Warren DeLaSalle.

Troy is the favorite.

"We feel good about our chances to make it to the state finals," Willard said. "There are some tough teams in our region, but I feel good about how well our guys are playing right now."

North plays a Division 2 regional tournament Friday, Oct. 11, at Lake Front Park.

Joining the Norsemen are Detroit East English Village Prep Academy, Detroit Martin Luther King, Detroit Western International, Eastpointe East Detroit, Port Huron, St. Clair Shores Lakeview, Sterling Heights and Warren Woods-Tower.

U-D is the favorite.

"We played a tough schedule to prepare for this regional tournament," Van Alst said. "We are ready and our goal is to make the state finals."

Liggett travels to Almont for a Division 4 regional tournament Thursday, Oct. 10.

Joining the Knights are Algonac, Almont, Burton-Atherton, Clawson, Flint Powers Catholic, Imlay City, Mount Morris EA Johnson and Sandusky.

Liggett is the favorite.

"I like the way our boys are playing right now," Mascarin said. "They are playing with confidence and they know the goal is to play well in the regionals and make the state finals."

The top two teams in each regional automatically make the state finals or a squad can qualify by earning at least 18 points.

The state finals are set for Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19.

The Division 1 final is at the Midland Tennis Center, while the Division 2 final is at Holland High School.

The Division 4 final is at two sites, Grand Blanc and Holly.

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