Chargers host Chemics in tennis on Thursday
Dow High (14-1) and Midland High (9-0) are both having strong seasons as they head toward their annual regular-season-ending match on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Dow courts.
Dow is ranked No. 3 in Division 2 and was ranked No. 1 last week, despite a season-ending injury to senior Colin Angell, last year’s No. 2 singles player, and the unavailability of William Kirkman, who played No. 1 singles two years ago.
“These guys have been consummate professionals this season,” said Dow coach Terry Schwartzkopf, whose Chargers won five straight Division 2 state titles from 2009-13. “The loss of Kirkman and Angell had a huge impact on this team. … Players have had to step up and work hard to improve. … We are (still) a strong, competitive team who should finish in the top five of states and has a chance to bring home the trophy. Each day these guys get stronger. Their belief in each other and their ability has never faltered.”
The Chargers have Varun Shanker at No. 1 singles, Michael Szabo at No. 2, Tyler Conrad at No. 3, and Aditya Middha at No. 4.
Dow’s doubles flights are Sagar Kamaraju/Spencer Bouck, Noah Nichols/J.J. Kirkman, Daniel Zhang/Ryan Killmaster, and Gopal Parthasarathy/Bryce Blakemore.
The Chemics counter at singles with Weondong Hwang, Kelvin Kotanchek, Brandon Johnson and Nathan Haut; and at doubles with Josh Hentschel/Brendan Doyle, Kyler Bruce/Cameron Mills, Jacob Gomez/Josiah Greiner, and Luke Pajk/Kyle Taylor.
Chemics’ coach Jordan Palladino said it’s been a rewarding season, noting that his team has won all of its tournaments except for last Saturday at Traverse City Central, where the Chemics took second.
“I’ve been very blessed with a lot of good players. My lineup could have gone any number of ways with all the good players I have,” Palladino said. “We’ve had some wins against some quality teams: Grand Blanc, Holt, Traverse City West. We’re looking forward to having our toughest test of the year on Thursday (against Dow). It should be fun.”
Likewise, Schwartzkopf said his team looks forward to the matchup.
“Midland is always competitive with us. Jordan runs a strong program and does a wonderful job strengthening his team throughout the season,” Schwartzkopf said. “We have a lot of experience in the singles, which should give us an overall edge. My guys didn’t like losing a couple matches last year in doubles and some of them have made it a personal goal to not repeat that outcome. … I think doubles will be full of exciting matches.”
Palladino said it will be important for his Chemics to be aggressive against Dow.
“We’re just going to have to come out and play aggressive and confident and not be too passive,” he said. “ … We’re going to have to elevate our game in order to compete. If we can do that, we can hang with them and pull out some matches and do as well as we can.”
After Thursday, both teams compete in the Saginaw Valley League championship one week later, and the regionals the following week.
If they advance, the Division 1 state finals for Midland will be at the Greater Midland Tennis Center, and the Division 2 state finals for Dow will be in Holly, both from Oct. 16-17.