BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester Adams has a very impressive track record with its boys tennis team succeeding at the league, regional and state levels. That is nothing new dating back to the 1970s.
The Highlanders have won many league titles or finished in the upper echelon of their league for decades and have qualified for the state finals with regularity. In fact, Adams has now made the cut in 13 of the past 16 seasons.
“We have been very fortunate, very successful over the years,” admitted veteran Adams coach Al Must, who has coached the Highlanders boys team since the 1980s and at one time was the girls tennis coach at the school, also back in the 80s.
Adams last missed the state finals as a team in the spring of 2004, but have now advanced in nine straight seasons. Many of the Highlanders’ state-qualifying teams have finished in the top 10.
“We have had a lot of top 10s and the years we didn’t finish in the top 10 we were usually in the 11th-15th range, not too far out of the top 10,” noted Must.
Adams has qualified for the state finals a total of 16 times in the past 20 seasons. In school history, Adams unofficially has finished in the top 10 at the state finals 14 times. The first top-10 state finish came in 1978, when the Highlanders placed 10th overall. Adams also finished 10th in 1979.
The Highlanders returned to the top 10 in 1991 with a ninth-place finish and has made the state finals in 17 of the past 23 campaigns with 12 top-10 finishes leading up to this season.
“We have had a nice run in recent years and overall have had a lot of success over the years. Adams tennis has always been strong,” noted Must. “Some of our best teams have come in the past decade. We had a (three-year) run where we didn’t qualify and that around the time (2002-2004) when (Rochester) Stoney Creek opened and we had three high schools. But we rebuilt and have now been very consistent program the past 20 years or so.”
Adams only had an individual qualifier in 2004 but has not missed the state finals since that spring season. The Highlanders have six straight top-10 finishes.
Adams best state finish came in the fall of 2007 — the same season that boys tennis was switched from a spring to fall sport — as the Highlanders finished second in Division 2 with 19 points and just three points behind state champion East Lansing.
This year’s team finished second in the ever-tough OAA Red Division, second at the Rochester regional and will compete at the state finals this weekend at the Midland Community Tennis Center. Adams was 9-3 in dual matches.
This year’s run was unexpected, with a very young squad dominated by sophomores, plus several players up from the junior varsity. The Highlanders graduated five of their top 10 players from last year’s team that finished eighth at the Division 1 state finals.
“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.”