STURGIS — The Sturgis tennis program is no stranger to the MHSAA state finals.
In fact, the Trojans have qualified for the finals in each of the past six seasons, and this year marks the seventh in a row for Sturgis.
Sure, the Trojans are thrilled to have made the state finals once again. But they have no intention of simply showing up and going through the motions.
“We are eagerly anticipating the finals. In terms of results, we aim to outperform last year. However, our draws are quite challenging,” said Sturgis coach George Earl. “This team has performed exceptionally well throughout the season. We’ve had strong finishes, and although we didn’t win regionals, we played some excellent tennis there.”
Sturgis secured a second-place finish at the Vicksburg regional, trailing St. Joseph. However, the Trojans accumulated more than the 10 points required to qualify for the finals, accomplishing this early in the day. Their focus now shifts to putting on a strong performance in Kalamazoo. Earlier in the year, the Trojans clinched the Wolverine Conference championship, one of their main goals. Qualifying for the state finals was another important milestone.
Now, their aim is to compete at the finals and potentially secure another Top 10 finish.
Sturgis placed seventh last year and ninth in 2021.
“Our guys are pumped. What’s really exciting about this team is that while we’ve made it to the state tournament consistently, we also have new members who haven’t experienced it before,” Earl said. “We finished the regular season on a high note and made other teams work hard. We’re determined to finish strong as a tight-knit group.”
Unfortunately, none of the eight flight categories at the finals are seeded this year. Nevertheless, the Trojans remain committed to showing up and giving their all.
In the No. 1 singles category, George Ebert will face Andrew Owings from East Grand Rapids. Ebert boasts a 17-9 record for the season, while Owings stands at 20-9. The winner of that match will go up against fourth-seeded Alvaro Blazquez Navas from Big Rapids.
Grady Miller, in the No. 2 singles category, will square off against Kaleb Casler of DeWitt. Miller holds a 20-7 record for the year, while Casler sits at 14-20. The victor will then face top-seeded Dan Marin from Detroit County Day in the second round.
Christian Perry will face sixth-seeded Mikey Beusse of East Grand Rapids in the second round. Both players received a first-round bye. Perry holds a 19-9 record for the season, while Beusse sits at 17-11.
In the No. 4 singles category, Preston Gump from Sturgis will compete against Andrew Wessendorf of Stevensville-Lakeshore. Gump has a 15-11 record for the year, while Wessendorf comes in at 11-8. The winner of that matchup will then play third-seeded Kevin Ye from Detroit Country Day in the second round.
The No. 1 doubles team from Sturgis, Luke Frost and Drake Harker, will face Pranav Gunna and CJ Dunn from Auburn Hills Avondale in the first round. The Trojan duo had a 15-8 record this year, while Avondale’s pair finished with a 19-2 record. The winner of that match will then go up against fourth-seeded Carter Barnes and Charlie Seufert from East Grand Rapids.
George Bucklin and Carter Oswald will compete against Lucas Inosencio and Dylan Rogers from Parma Western in the second round. Both teams received a first-round bye. The Sturgis duo went 17-10 this year, while the Parma team had a 13-12 record.