BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — For any boys tennis team coming out of Oakland County, advancing to the state finals is not a right or passage but an earned merit.
Birmingham Brother Rice captured its fifth straight Division 1 regional title Thursday at Rochester High, topping the nine-school field with 30 points — and the Warriors had to top a deep field to gain its berth into the state finals.
“Oakland County tennis is so strong every year. There are so many good teams,” said Brother Rice coach Bill Smith. “That being said, it’s always nice to win a regional with so many quality teams.”
Rochester Adams finished second with 22, as the top two teams and the finalists at No. 1 singles all advanced to the Lower Peninsula Division 1 state finals Oct. 19-20 at Midland Community Tennis Center.
West Bloomfield claimed third with 16 points, missing a state berth by two points, while Rochester Stoney Creek (15), Clarkston (8), Rochester (7), Lake Orion (4), Walled Lake Central (3), Waterford Mott (0) and Waterford Kettering (0) rounded out the field.
“We felt that we would have a great chance because of our depth,” added Smith, whose team entered the postseason ranked third. “We have a solid team from top to bottom and I thought with a lot of No. and No. 2 seeds that we could do well at the regional.”
Brother Rice did just that, winning seven of the eight flights to prevail. The Warriors swept all four doubles flights and also won No. 2, No .3 and No. 4 singles.
Adams sophomore Justin Hyman captured the No. 1 singles crown, pulling an upset of Stoney Creek senior Nick Fiaschetti in the finals in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
“He keeps getting better and better and I truly think he is becoming one of the elite players in the area,” offered veteran Adams coach Al Must. “He’s been playing some really good tennis this season, especially the past couple weeks.”
It marks the 10th straight season that Adams has qualified for the state finals. This year’s berth comes as a surprise.
“Having us finish second at both the (OAA Red Division) league meet and again at the regional, especially this regional, is a great accomplishment. I never thought that this would be possible back at the beginning of the season back in August,” added Must. “We have a team made up of mostly first-year varsity players and the guys we have back our playing in new flights. This team is achieving much more than I thought they would.”
Still, Brother Rice’s depth helped the Warriors pull away from the talented field.
Jack Hamaty captured the No. 2 singles crown with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Adams’ Charles Xu. Chase Perry (No. 3) toppled Rahul Jain of Adams in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, while Michael Giraci posted a 6-1, 6-0 sweep of Clarkston’s Alexis Hazelwanter in the No. 4 finals.
In the doubles flights, it was all Brother Rice.
Blake Hildebrand and Gavin McNulty joined forces to topple Stoney Creek’s Chris Stanbury and Jake Kruk at No.1 doubles, 7-6 (5), 6-1, and Rice’s George Hamaty and Connor Parks won the No. 2 flight with a 6-0, 6-2 decision over Rochester’s Matt Beckstrom and Luke Brunson.
The No.3 tandem of Joe Hildeband and Johnny Cameron swept the Adams duo of Austin Trieu and Rishi Mehta 6-2, 6-1, while Rice capped the doubles run with David Weatherford and Brendan Dillion topping Stoney Creek’s Paul Seyferth and Brandon Meharg 6-0 6-1 in the finals.
DIVISION 1 REGIONAL
(Oct. 11 at Rochester HS)
TEAM SCORES — 1. Birmingham Brother Rice, 30; 2. Rochester Adams, 22; 3. West Bloomfield, 16; 4. Rochester Stoney Creek, 15; 5. Clarkston, 8; 6. Rochester, 7; 7. Lake Orion, 4; 8. Walled Lake Central, 3; 9. (tie) Waterford Kettering, 0; Waterford Mott, 0.
SINGLES — 1. Justin Hyman (Rochester Adams) d. Nick Fiaschetti (Rochester Stoney Creek) 6-3, 6-4; 2. Jack Hamaty (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Charles Xu (Rochester Adams) 6-2, 6-2; 3. Chase Perry (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Rahul Jain (Rochester Adams) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; 4. Michael Ciraci (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Alexis Hazelwanter (Clarkston) 6-1, 6-0
DOUBLES — 1. Blake Hildebrand-Gavin McNulty (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Chris Stanbury-Jake Kurk (Rochester Stoney Creek) 7-6 (5), 6-1; 2. George Hamaty-Connor Parks (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Matt Beckstrom- Luke Brunson (Rochester) 6-0, 6-2; 3. Joe Hildeband-Johnny Cameron (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Austin Trieu-Rishi Mehta (Rochester Adams) 6-2, 6-1; 4. David Weatherford-Brendan Dillion (Birmingham Brother Rice) d. Paul Seyferth-Brandon Meharg (Rochester Stoney Creek) 6-0, 6-1.
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