Lakers on verge of 9th straight trip to tennis finals

Each season, Spring Lake's Charlie Bassett's varsity tennis team has certain expectations to meet or exceed. It starts with winning conference titles and keeping the Lakers' streak of state title berths alive. The Lakers will be vying for a ninth-straight trip to the Division 3 finals today, as Spring Lake plays host to the regional tournament. All flights will be held at Spring Lake High School except for No. 4 doubles, which will be played at Fruitport High School.
Nate Thompson
Oct 6, 2011

Bassett believes his team has an excellent chance at keeping the state finals streak alive, but the Lakers are not considered favorites to win the regional. That distinction would go to Petoskey, a team ranked No. 7 in the current state rankings in Division 3.

“If we win this, it would be the biggest upset in my coaching career,” Bassett admitted. “But I keep telling the kids, never say never. If it’s so black and white, then why even play it? Upsets happen all the time not just in tennis but in every sport. If we go in with a positive attitude, anything can happen.”

Spring Lake lost to the Northmen at a pair of quads earlier this season. Another favorite at the regional will be Cadillac, who the Lakers tied at an earlier tournament in Big Rapids.

It’s likely that one of the three contenders will be on the outside looking in when the final points are tallied. Teams that reach at least 18 points qualify for state.

“First and foremost, our goal is to get 18 points,” Bassett said. “Anything more than that is a bonus.”

In singles play, Spring Lake’s highest seed will be at No. 1, where sophomore Ryan Fedewa is second. After battling through a minor back injury earlier this season, Bassett said Fedewa has come on strong down the stretch.

“He’s just become more aggressive on the court,” Bassett said. “He attacks the ball. Last year, he was more of a defensive player, but now he’s taking charge. He’s serving tough, he volleys, comes to the net. When you’re aggressive on the court, that’s how good players play.”

Fedewa’s toughest test to a flight championship will be posed by Petoskey’s Zach Phillips, who has defeated Fedewa twice this season.

At No. 2 singles, Spring Lake’s Gabriel Guzman is seeded third. Guzman, an exchange student from Bolivia, has only been able to suit up for the Lakers since Sept. 1, but has worked the rust off.

“He’s missed half of the season, but he grew up playing the sport. Just watching him (warm up), you know he’s a player,” Bassett said.

The Lakers are seeded fourth at both No. 3 and 4 singles, with Mitch Davis and Sean Dusterwinkle, respectively.

Bassett said a key to a Spring Lake upset over Petoskey would be for the Lakers’ doubles flights to thrive. Their No. 2 and 4 flights have split with the Northmen this season and the No. 3 team of Erik Johnson and Jonah Yoshonis — a No. 3 seed — battled to a close loss in their last meeting.

Spring Lake is seeded No. 2 in first doubles with the senior duo of Michael Hartliep and Nic Parnell. The Lakers’ Stuart Velarde and Harrison Palmer are the top seed at No. 2 doubles; and the team of Brenden Peel and Josh Cole are seeded second at No. 4.

Fruitport isn’t seeded in any flight, leaving head coach Brad Busscher to pull for some upsets so the Trojans can gain some valuable points.

“To advance to state, basically each flight has to collect at least two points and make it to the semifinals,” he said. “We’ve got to come out and battle, pick our spots and hope some breaks go our way.”

GH BATTLING AT HOLLAND

Grand Haven’s varsity tennis team enters its Division 1 regional at Holland High School today as underdogs, considering the Bucs must battle against a slew of O-K Red Conference teams they’ve fallen against during the regular season.

The favorite at the regional may be West Ottawa, the O-K Red champion.

“The key thing for us is come in and hold our seeds,” said coach Jeremy Case. “We need to come in and turn some heads. If not, it could be a short day for us.”

The Bucs’ best chances at turning some heads could occur at No. 2 doubles, where Ryan Peterson and Janno Heins are coming off an O-K Red title on Saturday.

The team of Isaac Bowen and Cam Rickard at No. 1 doubles could make some noise, as they were runners-up at the league tournament.

Other teams competing at the regional, which begins at 8:30 a.m., includes Caledonia, East Kentwood, Grandville, Hudsonville, Kalamazoo Central, Rockford, and the host Dutch. 

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.