On a spring roll: Negaunee wins at Marquette for 3rd boys tennis victory in as many days

Negaunee’s William Luke returns the ball during a singles match against Marquette’s Nick Olivier at Marquette Senior High School on Wednesday. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

“(Marquette’s) Alec (Olivier) kind of sets that bar in the U.P. and it gives (Negaunee’s) Chas (Kumpula) something to shoot for as we move forward.” — Kyle Saari, head coach, Negaunee boys tennis


MARQUETTE — Inclement weather may have been looming, but that didn’t stop the Negaunee boys tennis team from earning its third win in as many days this week.

Negaunee defeated Marquette 7-1, earning a sweep of the doubles flights, while also winning Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles matches to improve to 7-0 in dual meets.

Negaunee head coach Kyle Saari said cloudy skies and 40-degree weather was no excuse for his team, which the Miners didn’t seem too fazed by.

Marquette’s Nick Olivier returns the ball during a singles match against Negaunee’s William Luke at Marquette Senior High School on Wednesday. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

“It’s still early in the year and I think every team across the (Upper Peninsula) hasn’t had a ton of opportunity to get outside and play a ton,” he said. “The kids understand and do a nice job of realizing that it’s not an excuse and you have to show up and play. You have to be your best every day.

“We’re still trying to improve every day, too. We have a lot of improving left to do, but it was nice to be able to put together the performance we did today.”

Marquette head coach Charlie Drury credited Negaunee for its performance, while also commenting on his singles players, in particular senior Alec Olivier, who defeated Negaunee’s Chas Kumpula in the No. 1 singles flight 6-0, 6-1 to remain unbeaten in his high school career.

“Negaunee is solid from top to bottom,” he said. “It’s still early in the year and there’s some good things that came of this meet. I thought we had some good play in singles. I thought Alec played really well.

“All around, they just played better tennis than we did (today). We’ve just got to keep working hard.”

Marquette is now 2-1, while Saari talked about Kumpula going toe-to-toe with Olivier.

“Chas has done a great job at the top of our lineup at No. 1,” he said. “Of course, Alec is a terrific player and Chas knew what he was facing. Alec kind of sets that bar in the U.P. and it gives Chas something to shoot for as we move forward.”

There was also a thriller at No. 2 singles, with Negaunee’s Will Luke defeating MSHS freshman Nick Olivier 7-5, 6-4 in a match that lasted roughly two hours.

“That was a great match,” Drury said. “It was anybody’s match and Negaunee came out on top. Nick is a freshman and Will Luke is a sophomore, so they’re going to be battling for the next few years I’m sure. Both kids should be real proud of that match.”

Saari also commented on his No. 2 singles player.

“Will gives us kind of a 1-2 punch in our singles lineup,” he said. “He’s someone capable of playing in a number of places. He’s a good kid, he’s level-headed and doesn’t get too high or too low, and if adversity does hit, he’s always just going to keep fighting and that’s all you can ask for.”

Peyton Anderson defeated Marquette’s Kevin Zhang in the No. 3 slot 6-1, 6-4, while Jordan Mason took No. 4 singles for the Miners in a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Beau Belkowski.

The closest doubles match of the day came at No. 3 doubles, with Preston Toutant and Nathan Brundage going down to the wire in three sets against the Redmen’s Robert Apple and Ben Sternschuss. Toutant and Brundage won 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 and 6-2.

The remaining doubles flights ended in straight sets. At No. 1, Negaunee’s Jakson Sager and Drew Lindberg topped Trevor Lewis and Connor Johnson 6-2, 6-3. No. 2 saw the Miners’ Jake Larson and Ander Sorensen defeat Luke Ferzacca and Soren Higgins 6-2, 6-0, while No. 4 doubles had Negaunee’s Tom Kinjorski and Erik Salminen topping Casey Yaden and Jack Franchino 6-1, 6-3.

Marquette goes to Kingsford at 4:30 p.m. EDT today, while Negaunee seeks its fourth win in four days hosting Escanaba at 4 p.m. today.

“It’s a busy week,” Saari said. “We had meets Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week and then we go down to the Kingsford Invite on Saturday. You just have to play each meet on the schedule as it comes up, and hope to keep responding to the challenges.

“Our thing is we never want to get complacent. We want to find ways to continue to improve and I feel each of the three days so far this week, we’ve been able to do that.”

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.