The relocation of regionals and what it means for FHC tennis

One of the many traditions that befalls boys and girls tennis once their seasons come around is the FHC student body coming down to the courts to watch them compete in both conference and regional tournament play. For both students and players, enjoyment can be reaped from it.

Typically, these tournaments are held at either Forest Hills Central or Forest Hills Northern High Schools, making for at least one of those tournaments to be held at home. But this year, regionals for both girls and boys varsity tennis have been moved south to Kalamazoo–meaning the conference tournaments have to be played at FHC this year for that tradition to occur.

This is heartbreaking for many tennis players, especially seniors who may never experience the school coming out to watch them again. However, it also raises confusion amongst the FHC tennis community; why would the region be moved? The teams compete with teams such as Mattawan, Portage Northern, and Portage Central, all of which aren’t in close proximity with FHC. Additionally, the teams have to travel about an hour south for regionals compared to staying at home or making the short drive across town to Forest Hills Northern.

“Traverse City Central moved into Division 2, so they moved TCC to our region. Since we are the southernmost school, they bumped us to Portage Central’s region,” states girls and boys varsity coach Dan Bolhouse.

This raises indignant feelings amongst the players because now they cannot reap the benefits of competing at home for such an important tournament, and classes of eager and supportive students cannot come to watch them compete. Although not having a home crowd is troublesome, there is a far more concerning outcome to the relocation. Kalamazoo’s region is known to have talented tennis teams which makes qualifying for the state finals tournament much more difficult. This rings true especially on the girls side.

Formerly, Forest Hills Northern was Forest Hills Central’s biggest competitor at regionals. Since the top two finishers at regionals are allowed to go to states, chances were very high that they would qualify. Now, with an abundance of equally talented teams in the Kalamazoo region, the girls’ and boys’ teams are not guaranteed a states berth every year.

But even with an abundance of seemingly negative downsides to this switch in regional tournament locations, it is not all it’s made out to be. Not everyone in the FHC tennis community is frustrated about this, as change can always bring hidden benefits.

“I was super excited to hear that we changed regions this season. We play Forest Hills Northern so many times during the season, so it’s a nice change since they were in our previous region. I think that this new region has a lot of potential for us and I’m excited to see how we do this year,” senior captain Brooke Kushak states.

Even with a drastic change in regions, it does not mean success cannot be found for the FHC teams. This past fall season, the boys varsity tennis team tied for first place with Mattawan, an incredibly impressive showing regarding the circumstances. This spring, the girls varsity tennis team has yet to show how they matchup with schools in their new region, but you can bet that the players will be primed and ready to establish their prominence.