Ann Arbor Greenhills players and coaches pose with their MHSAA Division 3 boys tennis championship trophy on Saturday.
After dominating Division 4 for more than a decade, No. 1-ranked Ann Arbor Greenhills won 39 of 40 points to win its first Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 boys tennis championship on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium.
Seeking a higher level of competition, Greenhills moved up to the ultra-competitive Division 3 this season.
No. 2-ranked Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and No. 3 ranked Detroit Country Day tied for second at the state finals with 24 points each. Cranbrook had won the past four Division 3 championships and either Cranbrook or Country Day had won every Division 3 championship since the fall 2007 season.
Greenhills had won 10 of the past 13 Division 4 championships and was runner-up the three years they didn’t win. Greenhills has now won 13 state championships in total under longtime head coach Eric Gajar and assistant Mark Randolf.
On Saturday, Greenhills swept all four singles flights. At No. 1, sophomore Mert Oral defeated St. Clair’s Derek Distelrath, 6-4, 6-2. Mert’s older brother, Kaan, a senior, beat St. Clair’s Eli Pinnoo, 6-2, 7-6(11), at No. 2. Freshman Rishi Verma defeated St. Clair’s Michael Mascarin, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3. And freshman Chakor Rajendra won at No. 4, beating St. Clair’s Ian Pinnoo, St. Clair, 6-3, 6-3.
Kaan Oral was Division 4 state champion at No. 2 singles the past two years. Mert Oral won the Division 4 state championship at No. 3 singles last year.
Greenhills won three of the four doubles flights, reaching the final in the other. At No. 1, the team of senior Sahil Deenadayalu and senior Henry Branch beat Grand Rapids Christian’s Grant Moorhead and Tanner Warners, 6-1, 6-1. Junior Joey Formicola and freshman Daniel Stojanov defeated Cranbrook’s Hayes Bradley and David Hermelin, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 2. Senior Alex Schwendeman and junior Thomas Zeng defeated Cranbrook’s Calvi Teste and Ben Conti, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 4. Senior Nathan Rosenberg and junior Finn Feldeisen fell to Country Day’s Clay Hartje and Aidan Khaghany, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 3.
Rosenberg and Feldeisen won the Division 4 state championship at No. 3 doubles last season. Schwendeman was Division 4 state champion last year at No. 4 doubles with Harrison Li, who graduated.
The Gryphons finished the regular undefeated in dual meets this season with convincing wins over highly ranked teams in each division.
Among those wins were two victories over Division 1 No. 1 Ann Arbor Huron (8-0 and 5-3) and a scrimmage victory (7-1) over Division 1 No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer to earn the “mythical” Ann Arbor city title. Huron and Pioneer tied for the Division 1 championship on Saturday.
In addition to their perfect dual-meet record, the Gryphons won each of the three prestigious tournaments (the Great Eight Invitational at Sturgis, the Clarkston Invitational, and the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett Invitational) they entered this season.
Greenhills also won its first-ever Catholic High School League championship on Oct. 5, dominating a stacked field that included Division 1 No. 5-ranked Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (finished seventh in the state finals), Division 2 No. 2 University of Detroit Jesuit (finished second in the state finals), Cranbrook, Division 4 No. 2 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (finished third in the state finals), and Division 4 No. 3 Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (finished fourth in the state finals).
Greenhills swept all eight flights to top Country Day in winning a regional championship on Oct. 10. The Gryphons didn’t drop a set during the regional tournament.
The Gryphons finished the season ranked at No. 1 in the latest Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Top 10 rankings regardless of division.
“It was a historical season for us, marked by many firsts,” said Gajar.
“The team achieved all of the lofty goals set at the beginning of the season: Win the Catholic League title; have an undefeated regular season; capture the mythical Ann Arbor city title; and be ranked at No. 1 across all divisions in the coaches association’s power ranking. Plus, they did it the right way -- with class and sportsmanship. I am most proud of that.”
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 1 singles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills sophomore Mert Oral.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 2 singles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills senior Kaan Oral.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 3 singles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills freshman Rishi Verma.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 4 singles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills freshman Chakor Rajendra.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 1 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills junior Thomas Zeng.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 1 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills senior Henry Branch.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 2 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills freshman Daniel Stojanov.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 2 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills Junior Joey Formicola.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 3 doubles runner-up: Ann Arbor Greenhills senior Nathan Rosenberg.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 3 doubles runner-up: Ann Arbor Greenhills junior Finn Feldeisen.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 4 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills junior Thomas Zeng.
2019 MHSAA Division 3 No. 4 doubles champion: Ann Arbor Greenhills Senior Alex Schwendeman.