Pioneer girls tennis tied for lead after day one of Division 1 state finals; Gabriel Richard fifth in D4
The Pioneer High School girls tennis team took the first step to defending its state title Friday at the MHSAA Division 1 state finals. The Pioneers are alive in seven of eight flights, advancing to the semifinals in all but No. 1 singles, and are tied for first place with Clarkston with 21 points.
Pioneer coach Tom Pullen was happy with his team’s performance, but knows the heavy lifting lies ahead.
“We are the underdog in every match (Saturday),” he said. “We’re going to do the best we can and see what happens.”
The Pioneers are actually the lower seed in all but No. 4 doubles, where Shreya Bahl and Anna Borowicz are the top seed.
Pioneer was in a similar situation last year and outplayed its seeds to overtake defending state champions Midland Dow on day two of the state finals.
Besides Courtney Lymburner's win at No. 1 singles against Kelly Freeman of Troy -- who had beaten Lymburner during the regular season -- the Pioneers have yet to exceed expectations.
“We met our hopes and expectations. We held up our seeds,” Pullen said. “Let’s say it’s an uphill battle. We’ve got good spirits and nothing to lose.”
Saline is in fifth place with 13 points after day one. Huron is tied for 12th with seven. Neither team has any players still alive in the tournament.
Father Gabriel Richard No. 2 singles player Anjali Sood entered the state tournament unseeded. But after upsetting the No. 4 and 5 seeds on day one of the Division 4 state finals in Grand Blanc, her state title hopes are still alive.
It doesn’t get any easier for Sood, who will face top-seeded Kelsi Black of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the semifinals Saturday morning.
“That No. 1 seed is a tough player, but (Sood) has a lot of confidence I really think she can do it,” said Richard coach Jim Sayed.
Also still alive for Gabriel Richard is Molly Geppner at No. 1 singles and Natalie Ring at No. 4 singles. The Irish are in fifth place overall with 12 points.
“We came in expecting to finish in the top 10 and always hope to finish in the top five,” Sayed said. “I don’t think (top five) will happen based on the fact that all our doubles are gone, but top 10 is almost a certainty.”
Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart Academy and Grand Rapids North Pointe Christian are tied for first with 19 points.