with gallery: Greenhills sweeps Division 4 regional, eyes fifth consecutive state title
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As the four-time defending MHSAA Division 4 boys tennis champions, it was expected that Greenhills School would advance to the state finals next weekend at Kalamazoo College.
The Gryphons lived up to those expectations by sweeping all eight flights Thursday on their home courts earning the maximum 24 team points and securing a berth in the state finals.
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett scored 15 points to finish second and also qualified.
“We knew from the beginning of the season that we were a strong team but we can’t ever really let that get to our heads,” said senior captain Mithun Saha who won his No. 2 singles flight. “It's good to come out and go with our competition and see where we are.
“A lot of these matches aren’t gimme matches, the scores don’t necessarily represent matches.”
Of the eight finals matches, only two were pushed to a third set. Seven of those eight matches were played between Greenhils and Liggett.
Strong winds and chilly weather caused some unusual shots to drop during the course of the tournament. While weather conditions obviously weren’t the best, head coach Eric Gajar said it wasn’t anything the players couldn’t overcome.
With the focus now officially on winning another state championship, some players admitted there is an unintentional pressure building for the team to repeat.
“There is definitely the sense of, the team has won four in a row and you don’t want to be that team that breaks the streak, so there is definitely some pressure,” said senior Matteo Todisco. “Given the talent on the team, it’s sort of lessened for us.”
Saha said that while there is pressure, it’s up to him as a captain to have the team prepared for the challenge ahead.
“At the state tournament, anything can happen. We’ve had people that are highly seeded, lose in the first round,” Saha said. “I think we have a good chance. Talent wise, we’re very strong. Our possible weakness only can be the mental game, if we get too complacent.”
Despite being the overwhelming favorite heading into the finals, Todisco’s doubles partner, Connor Kaczynski is weary about some of the competition they’ll face.
“There are definitely teams in D-4 that we have to keep our guard up for,” Kaczynski said. “As long as we keep playing our game, we’ll have a good shot.”
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner each competed in the regional, but neither qualified for state finals. Steiner scored two points as a team and Richard scored one point.
Matt Durr covers sports at AnnArbor.com