Boys varsity tennis outlasts East Grand Rapids 5-3 following the Midland Midweek Classic


Amy Sjolin

Walker Sjolin (right) and Cully Herbert (left) pose for a picture.

Every championship-contending team has one thing in common: reliable star players. For the boys varsity tennis squad, this statement is proven each time it competes. With senior captains Walker Sjolin and Cully Herbert in conjunction with juniors Sammy Yin and Chris Shang leading the way, FHC left no doubt against Flushing High School and East Grand Rapids. 

It didn’t take the team’s utter domination against Flushing in the Midland Classic to show the boys what they were capable of. Instead, head coach Dan Bolhouse and his squad have trusted the process and remained steady on their attack all year long. The opportunity to play in this competitive tournament goes a long way towards developing the Rangers for future endeavors.

“Playing in tournaments like the Dow Midweek Classic prepares us for success because it is such high-level tennis,” coach Bolhouse said. “The teams we face are the same teams we will battle in the conference, regional, and state tournaments this fall.”

After sweeping Flushing 8-0, FHC came up just short in the subsequent match to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. However, this loss presented the Rangers with a silver lining as they played step-for-step with one of the best teams in the state. The impressive showing from the varsity tennis team at Midland defines its ability to compete with any opponent it faces. 

Less than 24 hours after returning home, FHC made the trip to Gaslight Village to take on its bitter rival in East Grand Rapids. A 5-3 victory for the boys displayed a neck-and-neck battle, but in reality, the Rangers controlled the narrative throughout the entire dual. In this particular match, seniors Cully Herbert and Walker Sjolin stepped up to a large extent and emerged victorious in a nail-biter at first doubles. The captains fought with EGR for three sets and were able to pull out a win, ultimately clinching the team’s eventual triumph. 

Had Walker and Cully fallen short, FHC would have tied the Pioneers. Once underclassmen on this Ranger squad, these two have risen to the top over the years to become the faces of the program.

“Cully and I have really matured as players,” Walker said. “We have similar intensity, ability, and are extremely competitive.”

At the singles spot, juniors Sammy Yin and Chris Shang continued to dominate the scorecard. At first and second singles for the Rangers, the two lost just three combined matches over four sets. Chris and Sammy have enjoyed the spotlight all year long, and they show no signs of slowing down; these two wins proved to be crucial for FHC’s victory over EGR. 

Although Chris has seemingly had his way with opponents so far this season, he is still hunting for mistakes within his game that can be perfected as the postseason approaches.

“I think the biggest takeaways from the match was learning what I do well and what I still need to work on,” Chris said. “I know what I have to do now to become a better competitor and fine-tune my game for the next match.”

This mindset will certainly need to be exercised this weekend, as FHC participates in a quad at West Ottawa on Saturday, September 18. Matching up with a lineup of daunting opponents, the Rangers will look to continue their promising season.