Negaunee wins its own invite

Miners wins 6 of 8 championships to easily hold off Westwood

Westwood’s Brett Frederickson keeps his eye on the ball in a first single match against Gwinn’s Jacob Porubsky Saturday afternoon, May 20, 2017, at the Negaunee Invitational Tournament. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

By RYAN STIEG

Journal Sports Writer

NEGAUNEE — It looks like another Upper Peninsula Finals championship could be on the horizon for the Negaunee High School boys tennis team.

The Miners won their own tournament, the Negaunee Invitational, Saturday in impressive fashion by taking six of eight championship matches to finish with 52 points. Westwood was second in the eight-team field with 36 points followed by Kingsford third with 33. Menominee was fourth, followed by West Iron County, Marquette, Gladstone and Gwinn.

“Our team is in a good position right now,” Negaunee head coach Kyle Saari said. “The goal isn’t just to get to the final, and by taking all six of the finals we were in, it’s a good sign of our mental toughness.

“Our goal is to play our best on the last day of the year and I think our schedule sets us up nicely to do that. I think today gave our younger players a chance to see what it takes to win a tournament and that will prepare them well for the last two meets.”

Luke Skewis (No. 2), Thomas Sertich (No. 3) and Chas Kumpula (No. 4) each won singles titles for the Miners and Negaunee took the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 doubles matches.

“Thomas probably put together his best day of the year,” Saari said. “He won his semifinal over a kid who beat him earlier in the year and then won a final against a kid who beat him earlier. When All-U.P.s come, you’re going to have to do something that maybe you haven’t done all year. It’s good to see him continue to trend up.

“Luke had a really nice day, too. He beat a good opponent and he keeps getting better and better.”

The runner-up Patriots didn’t win any titles, but finished second at three flights. Anthony Couveau was runner-up at No. 4 singles and Westwood also finished second in Nos. 2 and 4 doubles.

“We looked really good today,” Westwood head coach Chris Jackson said. “We had a couple where we didn’t hold our seed and I think the kids got a good wake-up call before the conference meet. At the same time, we had a few kids who probably gained some confidence today by winning matches they shouldn’t have or getting close to doing so.

“I think they found something that they didn’t know that they had in them. Our No. 2 doubles team had a strong year, and even though they got beat bad last week by Negaunee, they played a great match today.

“Anthony also had a great day. His game has really come on and he’s shaping up well for these end-of-the-season tournaments.

“I like where our team is. I know every coach says that, but I really do like where we’re at.”

Although Marquette was sixth, it did earn an individual championship as Alec Olivier won the No. 1 singles title over Menominee’s Jon Antilla. Redmen head coach Charlie Drury had a lot of praise for his undefeated star player.

“I give Alec a lot of credit,” he said. “He’s only a sophomore and day in and day out, he’s prepared. He works hard during the week on his game and puts in a lot of time. It’s great to see him have this amount of success.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal. net.

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