GNC tennis: Flivvers cruise to GNC Championship

KINGSFORD – Kingsford, as expected, took home the Great Northern Conference boys tennis championship with little trouble Thursday.

The Flivvers tallied 38 of a possible 40 points to win the GNC for the first time since 2010. Two-time defending champion Marquette edged West Iron County 23-21 for team runner-up. Menominee, 18; Escanaba, 13, and Gladstone, six, also participated.

“This is the deepest team I’ve ever had,” said Kingsford Coach Mark Shanks, featuring seniors at seven of the 12 positions. “I’ve had better individual players but this is the first time I’ve been adequately strong in singles and doubles.”

The Flivvers swept singles with Caleb Harrington, Adam Szabo, Daniel Harrington and Brady Hicks all winning in two sets.

In doubles, Kingsford earned honors from No. 2 Sean Ryan-Ted Pietila; No. 3 Alec Tuchowski-Joe Gregory and No. 4 Tyler Schaut-Chris Roell. Again, all titles decided in two sets.

Flivver No. 1 doubles Dalton Allen-Aidan Wienke wound up third in a highly competitive territory.

“We stumbled at one doubles but it wasn’t that we played bad,” Shanks said. “The one flight of doubles is the closest in the U.P. Just about any of four or five teams could have won.”

Harrington, dealing with a right wrist injury suffered earlier this month, beat Gladstone’s Aaron Parmet (6-3, 6-0) for the first time in three tries this season.

“I have to be a lot more patient than I usually am,” Harrington said of his wrist situation. “I have to kind of take what they give me and place the balls rather than putting everything away.

“The shots I’m used to putting away I can’t anymore. I have to place it more with a little finesse.”

Shanks said the wrist injury has nullified Harrington’s “best weapon, his top spin, put away, forehand.”

“Caleb has to slice everything with his forehand,” Shanks said. “That slice is a defensive shot rather than offensive. He’s wearing some people down, frustrating them and showing some success.”

Harrington hoped hitting deep balls would keep Parmet away from the net.

“When Aaron gets to those short balls, he can really put them away,” Harrington said. “He has some monster strokes. He can hit a winner from anywhere.

“My serve was big today. I served today just about as well as I have all year.”

Escanaba’s Dave Fix-Jake Eastin grabbed the No. 1 doubles title with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marquette’s Kyle King-Alex Shahbazi.

Marquette also gained second-place medals from No. 3 singles Noah Gannon and No. 2 doubles Matt Collins-Mike Edwards.

West Iron’s Ryan Rogers fell in the No. 2 singles final. The Wykons also tacked on four thirds.

“We could have been there (in second place),” said Coach Joe Serbentas, noting his Wykons lost some close matches.

Menominee’s Devon Barley was No. 4 singles runner-up while the Maroons also took second with No. 3 doubles Colten Fernstrum-Chris Kelley and No. 4 Devon Harris-Jared Rivard.

The Flivvers and other challengers battled strong wind and chilly temperatures Thursday.

“I said don’t fear the wind, it will play into our favor (because of our athletes),” Shanks said. “For the most part, I thought it did.

“All the kid came through and bingo.”

Marquette hosts the U.P. Division 1 tournament on Wednesday while Westwood is the U.P. Division 2 site on Thursday.