Portland Tennis Ends Their Season With a New School Record
The Portland Girls Tennis Team went into the 2021 season grateful they were playing. After their season ended almost as quickly as it began in 2020, the team set out to make the most of 2021. And that they did! The team ended their season with an undefeated CAAC-White League record, swept all 8 flights at the CAAC-White tournament, and clinched the Regional Title winning 7 of 8 flights. Back-to-back League Champs! Back-to-Back Regional Champs! Qualifying again for the State Tournament! It was a season to remember before even stepping foot on the courts in Portage and Kalamazoo for the state tournament this past week!
For returning players, Kayla Weller, Alyssa Jack, Maura Lufkin, and Corey Smith, the intensity of the state tournament was well-known. Weller and Lufkin played in the tournament their freshman and sophomore years. Smith and Jack returned to play in their second state tournament. They all provided insight to the new varsity players, while leading them in a drive to end the season not just as state qualifiers, but as one of the top Division 4 public schools.
Portland went into the tournament with four seeded flights. 2 singles, Alyssa Jack, had the #6 seed. 3 singles, Adriana Krieger, had the #2 seed. 1 doubles, Maura Lufkin and Corey Smith, had the #4 seed. 2 doubles, Kara Kraczon and Bella Virk, had the #5 seed. Being seeded flights puts additional pressure on players to meet expectations in earning points for the team. The four seeded flights and the four unseeded flights all took to the courts Thursday morning with determination and intent to live up to those expectations. Every single flight won their first match of the day. In addition, seven flights made it to the quarterfinals to secure additional points for the Portland team.
1 singles, Kayla Weller, made quick work in her first two matches, defeating Ann Arbor Greenhills and Grand Rapids West Catholic, before meeting up with the #1 seed (and eventual State Champ) from Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Weller ended her Portland Tennis Career with a record of 28-3! A commendable effort and extremely successful career that will take her far as she continues on to play tennis for Alma College.
2 singles, Alyssa Jack, easily won her first match against Grand Rapids West Catholic 6-1, 6-0 before falling to a tough #3 seed from Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. Jack worked hard this season in the second singles flight, realizing the necessary effort in moving up from the 4 singles spot 2 years ago. She will continue to be a strong force next year.
3 singles, Adriana Krieger, met all expectations as the #2 seed. She fought hard to reach the finals, defeating Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep and Buchanan on the first day of play. Friday brought her to the semifinals against the #3 seed Warren Regina. Krieger met the challenge, defeating her opponent 6-2, 6-3 before taking on a tough Traverse City St. Francis #1 seed. Krieger had already met up with St. Francis earlier in the season and knew she was going to have to give it all she had. She only got one game of St. Francis when they met previously. While St. Francis's game proved to be worthy of a State Championship title, Krieger improved by getting 3 games. Krieger stepped up to the challenge of learning more about singles with this being her first varsity season. She ends her season with a record of 24-6 and intent to improve her game to be even stronger next season.
4 singles, Autumn Shimer, spent the two weeks prior to the tournament with an ankle injury and uncertainty if she would be able to play. After being placed in a walking boot, and several practices with a taped ankle, Shimer was cleared to play. She went into the tournament with intent to win her first match before having to take on the #1 seeded 4 singles player. Shimer had a close 7-5 first set against her first opponent, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, but made progress to win the match with her 6-2 score in the second set. In her next match, Shimer fought hard, but the #1 seed Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard proved to be just too much and defeated Shimer 6-3, 6-2. Autumn ends her season with her head held high as she played through her injury and did her part to insure the success of the team.
1 doubles, Maura Lufkin and Corey Smith, started their first day of tournament play with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Liggett and a 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal win over Wixom St. Catherine. On day two, Lufkin and Smith met up with #1 seeded Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart. Lufkin and Smith knew what to expect from this team as they were defeated earlier in the season. Though the outcome of this second meeting wasn't what the 1 doubles team had hoped for, there was a definite improvement in their play against them, getting 5 more games off them this time. Lufkin and Smith end their Portland Tennis career with a record of 28-3. They have certainly made their mark on Portland Tennis and will leave some big shoes to fill for next year's 1 doubles team!
2 doubles, Kara Kraczon and Bella Virk, went into the tournament as the #5 seed. These two knew they had a battle ahead of them with Kraczon having an injured hand. They didn't let that stop them as they worked hard for a 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Saginaw Nouvel. That win put them in the quarterfinals against the #4 seeded Grand Rapids Northpointe Christian. Kraczon and Virk went 3 sets with Northpointe, 6-1, 5-7, 3-6. It was evident that neither team wanted to back down to earn the spot in the semifinal match. Kraczon eventually found out she did have a broken finger. Who knows what the outcome would have been had she not been battling that pain! These two players will surely see lots of success next season!
3 doubles, Xanthe Cross and Elizabeth Seavey, made quick work in their first match, defeating Kalamazoo Christian 6-0, 6-2. Their second match put them against the #2 seed Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Cross and Seavey didn't let the fact that Everest was seeded so high stop them from giving it everything they had to try and get the upset. They went 3 sets, with the third set going to a tiebreaker. If only a few points had gone a little differently! Their efforts helped secure a point for the team's final standing and they should be proud of what they accomplished!
4 doubles, Ally Logel and Alexa Weber, having only joined the varsity lineup since the League Tournament less than a month ago, went into the state tournament with the least amount of experience on the team. But this doubles has not let that stop them in any of their matches thus far. And they definitely didn't let that stop them as they took on and defeated Schoolcraft 6-0, 6-1 in their first match. Next up for the freshmen was the #2 seeded North Muskegon team. Logel and Weber were aware this would be a tougher match than they had previously played against Schoolcraft. They played with all the heart and tenacity that we continually see from our veteran players even though they are both new to tennis, taking North Muskegon to a tiebreaker in the first set, but just couldn't muster up the shots to upset the seeded team. Falling to North Muskegon 7-6 (5), 6-3 was a tough loss, but certainly one they learned from. These two players are going to be a force to reckon with in future seasons as they continue to improve!!
As day two came to a close Friday, the team cheered on our State Finalist, 3 singles, Adriana Krieger. After the conclusion of Krieger's match, the team received the news that they secured themselves a THIRD PLACE finish at the tournament with 18 points. Once all finals matches finished and points were totaled, Portland shared that third place spot with North Muskegon. The two teams were the only public schools in the top 10. This finish is record-setting for Portland as it is the highest of any Portland tennis team. A rather fitting end for a team that didn't have a season last year and fought through several injuries to earn that honor!
For complete tournament scores/results, go to https://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/Documents/GTN/2021/D4.pdf
(photos courtesy of Kristin Weller, Kayla Weller, Nancy Lufkin, Maura Lufkin, Becky Mariage, and Adriana Krieger)