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FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

Boys varsity tennis places sixth at states


Before the state tournament, fans of boys varsity tennis expected the stellar tandem of junior Willum Knoester and senior Alex Chen at two doubles to take the state championship. The two athletes did not disappoint, as they claimed their state title this past weekend. Their victory helped FHC place sixth overall at the MHSAA Division II state championship.

Their two-doubles state championship finishes an impressive 33-1 season record. With their triumphs over nearly every known team in the state, excluding Troy (the Division I state runner-up,) their success was made clear during the 2023 fall season.

“A lot of hard work went into winning states, especially in the off-season,” Willem said. “This is obviously something I really cared about, and a five to seven-hour tennis day during the summer was pretty average. Some days bled into eight hours.”

Although Willem has one more season to complete, his partner Alex does not. Alex played one doubles with Philip Murdock last season; his newfound position was a surprise, but a gift nevertheless.

“At first, I felt disappointed that I moved down and couldn’t play one doubles again,” Alex said. “But the one and two doubles were pretty close to each other in skill, so two doubles would still be a very strong team. One difference between one and two is that one usually is more aggressive when going up to the net, while at two, that didn’t happen a lot. Obviously, it was easier than playing one doubles, but we had some challenges that we fixed to make our game better.”

Willem and Alex have had experience playing with each other before this season; they were also doubles partners for the 2021 fall season.

“Even though Alex and I were partners my freshman year, we still had to learn each others’ game again even better than before to sustain a high level of play and confidence in our abilities,” Willem said. “I feel like we surpassed our goals this season by not only winning a championship but also by tying the doubles all-time season win record of 37. This is just an amazing achievement that I couldn’t have done without him and the support from the team.”

Alex shares the same sentiments.

“I was really happy that Willem and I had such a good season,” Alex said. “With only one match and three sets lost throughout the whole season, we were very close to the record of having the best season at FHC. I enjoyed the overnights with the team and long rides to matches. The season wins that led up to states helped us gain confidence knowing we could beat all of them again during states.”

Although the remaining doubles and singles flights did not come away with state championships, their wins throughout the state tournament were monumental. Altogether, FHC racked up 16 points, 14 of which came from doubles.

One doubles, consisting of seniors Philip Murdock and Nico Notarnicola, earned a semifinal berth before falling to the number one seed Midland Dow 3-6 6-1 6-4. Saying goodbye to seniors who have completed their last season is difficult for both the remaining team and the seniors themselves.

“As a senior, losing your last match will never feel good,” Philip said. “Nico [Notarnicola] and I had a fantastic season and ended up earning a seed in the state tournament. It was my best year yet, and I was very proud of how we did. In particular, I was very excited about how much better we got over the season. Heading into the tournament, we knew we had a solid chance to win it all. With beating Seaholm in the quarters and facing Dow in the semis, we knew we were going to have to leave everything out there. And we did. We played very well but fell just short. It hurts to lose, but it gets a little better knowing you gave everything you had. And that on any given day, anyone could have won that match. The pain of the loss is outshined by all the fun Nico and I have had over the years. I couldn’t be prouder of everything we have accomplished and the fight we put up over the season and in our final match.”

Sophomore Hayden Tanner and senior Will Hoffman made up three doubles for the 2023 season. Following an impressive number of wins during the regular season, they were seeded fourth in their bracket. After defeating Grosse Pointe South 6-1 6-1, they fell in the quarterfinals to Byron Center. Their success in the regular season makes up for their early loss, however, especially as four doubles–senior Owen Godley and sophomore Austin Rowland–made an admirable run to the finals.

From the beginning of the fall season, it was evident the duo at four doubles was talented. Over the course of the season, their wins were among the highest of the singles and doubles flights, and following the end of a highly successful season, they were predicted to do well at states, just as two doubles were. Owen and Austin excelled at states, placing second after a hard-fought match against Birmingham Seaholm.

This 2023 season, the boys’ singles lineup was vastly different than last year, making for some difficulties at states as every flight had slightly limited experience at their position. Two of the singles flights, excluding two and four singles fell in the first round. Junior William Wen at one singles fell to the eighth seed, Mattawan, in a competitive 6-3 6-0 match. At three singles, sophomore Frey Wu was beaten by Traverse City Central in an extremely close match, 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Freshman Jakob Rietema, playing four singles, triumphed over Dexter 6-1 6-1, propelling him to the second round. There, he fell to the one seed, Midland Dow, 6-3 6-0. Lastly, two singles Franklin Feng beat Wyandotte Roosevelt 6-1 6-1, before losing a tight match to Mattawan 7-5 6-1.

Head coach Dan Bolhouse has been coaching both the girls and boys varsity tennis teams for over ten years. This state tournament has been one of many for him, especially one with scheduling difficulties.

“I’m very proud of our team for competing despite tough draws and delays because of the weather,” Dan said. “We had flights playing until 11:30 p.m. on Friday and to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Despite very challenging draws for the singles players, they competed in every match. The boys showed grit and toughness in playing some of the top seeds in each draw. Our doubles guys were seeded and they played very well. Our two doubles won the state championship and our four doubles lost in the finals. One doubles upset Seaholm to reach the semi-finals and lost to the top seed in a close three-set match.”

It is clear doubles found great success at states.

“Doubles did very well,” Dan said. “We earned 14 points from our doubles flights.  One doubles advanced to the semifinals before losing to the top seed in a close three-set match.  Second doubles won the state championship.  Third doubles lost a tough match to Byron Center in the quarterfinals, and four doubles lost in a very tight match in the finals to Seaholm.”

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Lily Ohlman
Lily Ohlman, Editor-in-Chief
Lily is a senior entering her second year on the FHC Sports Report staff, this year as Editor-in-Chief. She plays varsity tennis, is involved with the Environmental Club, and loves to immerse herself in environmental matters and concerns. Lily is additionally deeply passionate about wellness, chai tea lattes, candles, and the rain. Apart from being on the tennis court or in the classroom, she enjoys discovering new coffee shops and trying new dinner spots. Her favorite sports team is the Michigan Wolverines. If asked about the book series Throne of Glass, she would probably throw a fit of excitement. Her dream destination: Scotland Her favorite season: She cannot decide between fall or spring Something unusual she loves: The celestial world above Something she hates: The fact she can't read all the books ever written  

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