Just as dominant: Every Negaunee regular recognized as All-Upper Peninsula in high school boys tennis; joined by Marquette, Westwood players

Negaunee’s James Thomson, left, returns a volley with partner Jace Turri watching during a No. 1 doubles match at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals in boys tennis held at Kingsford High School on May 31. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Dennis Mansfield)

NEGAUNEE — Maybe the only surprise was that Negaunee left any room for other schools to claim some of the Upper Peninsula honors in Division 1 boys tennis.

The Miners were dominant in winning the U.P. Finals team championship on May 31 in Kingsford, scoring 23 of a possible 24 points by winning seven flights and finishing as runner-up in the eighth.

Each of Negaunee’s dozen regulars earned All-U.P. First Team or All-U.P. Honorable Mention. Every one of the 12 players participated and reached the championship match at the finals tournament that resulted in the Miners’ eighth U.P. title in 14 years, though its first since 2019.

Half of Marquette’s 12 participants at the finals and three from Westwood also earned All-U.P. honors.

Escanaba finished a distant runner-up at the finals with 11 points, while Marquette was fourth with 6 points and Westwood fifth with 5.

Negaunee No. 1 singles player Luke Syrjala hits a return shot during the final round of the 2022 U.P. Division 1 tennis championships held June 1, 2022, at Kingsford High School. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Dennis Mansfield)

In a little bit of an upset, Negaunee didn’t sweep the top awards, though it isn’t a surprise that Escanaba’s Dawson Williams was named Player of the Year.

He defeated the Miners’ Luke Syrjala at the U.P. Finals in No. 1 singles, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

But both players were the only singles players from Division 1 named all-state.

In addition, Negaunee’s No. 1 doubles pair of Jace Turri and James Thomson earned the lone all-state berth in doubles from this big division of U.P. schools.

All this didn’t really surprise their coach and Division 1 Coach of the Year Kyle Saari by the time they got to the end of the season, one that saw the Miners combine to lose just five times in more than 150 matches played.

Negaunee's Gavin Saunders stretches out to hit a return during the final round of the 2022 U.P. Division 1 tennis championships on June 1, 2022, at Kingsford High School. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Dennis Mansfield)

“This year has been kind of unprecedented,” he said during the U.P. Finals. “I don’t think you can ever see (a 155-5 record) coming. Our 2012 team was 162-7, and this team beat that as far as winning percentage.

“The unique thing was they were able to answer the challenge every single day. They’re a humble group, they do it the right way and they handle it the right way, too.”

Syrjala, Williams, Turri and Thomson all made the All-U.P. First Team.

They were joined by Miners’ No. 2 singles player Gavin Saunders and the No. 2 doubles team of Gavin Downey and Gavin Jacobson.

Also winning these top honors were Marquette No. 1 singles player Matt Barsch and Westwood’s No. 1 singles player Andrew Niemi.

Westwood 's Andrew Niemi makes a return during his championship match at the 2022 MHSAA Upper Peninsula Finals in Division 2 boys tennis at the Patriots' courts in Ishpeming on June 2, 2022. (Journal file photo)

Making Honorable Mention was Negaunee No. 3 singles player Mick Kumpula and No. 4 singles player Tyler Lajimodiere, along with No. 3 doubles duo of Philip Nelson and Zack Brundage and No. 4 doubles tandem of Ethan Harris and Brandon Borlace.

Joining them were Marquette No. 2 singles player Chase Thomsen, No. 1 doubles pair of Isaac Johnson and Keaton Ansell and No. 2 doubles twosome of Liam McFarren and Andrew King.

And included in the HM ranks were the Patriots’ No. 1 doubles tandem of Mitchell Ford and Nick Salzwedel.

Here are the other Division 1 honorees, with regular flight and school:

First Team — Sam Rivera, No. 2 singles, Escanaba; Isaac Nash, No. 1 singles, Kingsford; Ben Trevillian and Gabe Lafreniere, No. 1 doubles, Kingsford

Honorable mention — Gavin Moore, No. 2 singles, Kingsford; Eli Wallis and Jacob Saari, No. 2 doubles, Kingsford; Thomas Tackman and Nick Matthews, No. 1 doubles, Gladstone; Vlad Osterdahl and Parker LaFond, No. 1 doubles, Escanaba

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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