Negaunee takes fourth straight MPC title

By BURT ANGELI

Sports Writer

KINGSFORD – Negaunee notched a fourth straight Mid-Peninsula Conference boys tennis title Thursday.

But Miners coach Kyle Saari insists the lopsided results came as a surprise. Negaunee chalked up 46 points to 25 for runners-up Gwinn and Westwood.

“Coming in, we honestly didn’t know what to expect,” said Saari, whose Miners did not meet Westwood this spring because of the unpredictable weather. “We kind of followed their results throughout the year. We knew they were having some success, too. We did not know what kind of challenge they would pose for us.”

Negaunee met the challenge in all but one flight. Gwinn’s Indigo Cepeda took down Negaunee’s Parker Bowman (6-3, 6-2) for the No. 1 singles title.

“I just played my game and tried not to make mistakes,” said the junior from Madrid, Spain. “My weaknesses are sometimes I over-hit. Today I just tried to calm down, make my shots and make him run.”

Bowman, a No. 4 doubles player last year, extended several points with his ability to chase down Cepeda’s shots.

“Parker had a good day,” Saari said. “He’s had some growing pains along the way but that’s what you want to see, that growth at the end of the year.”

The other seven titles went to the Miners. Ryan Syrjala, Eric Hurst and Ben Luke copped singles at Nos. 2-4. Modeltowners’ Micah Heath extended Syrjala to three sets at No. 2 singles.

Negaunee swept doubles with No. 1 Doug Lindblom-Michael Anderson; No. 2 Stephen Trawick-Alex Roth; No. 3 Anthony Moyle-Rob Loy, and No. 4 Micah Johnson-Kolton Klein.

Westwood’s Nos. 3 and 4 doubles – Tristan Vitale-Mitch Messing and Brandon Benda-Nick Briones – forced three-set finals.

The Miners coach was impressed with seniors Lindblom-Anderson moving from the unseeded ranks to spill Iron Mountain’s Sawyer Kujala-Danny Willman in the semifinals and Gwinn’s Nick Bjork-Jesse Mottes in the finals (7-6, 6-3). A 13-11 tiebreaker was needed to decide the first set.

“They’ve had kind of an up and down year, and have been searching for some consistency,” Saari said. “I’m proud of them.”

The host Mountaineers, 17, finished fourth, followed by Ishpeming, 9, and Norway, zero. Iron Mountain No. 3 singles Jordan Wadge fell to Hurst (6-3, 6-1), in the title test.

“Jordan lost to a real good Negaunee player,” Iron Mountain Coach Greg Stegall said. “It was a tough bracket and all of those kids are decent players. Jordan played real good tennis to get here.”

U.P. Division 1 (Kingsford) and Division 2 (Westwood) tournaments will take place Wednesday, May 28. The Miners will return here where the host Flivvers, Menominee and Marquette will threaten.

“We were well focused and everybody did what they needed to in each flight,” Saari said of the MPC tourney. “We always talk about peaking for the conference and U.P.’s. Hopefully, team-wise, this result this will carry over some confidence into D1 next week.”