It almost feels surreal.
The tennis season is quickly winding down with regional play taking place Friday around the state. The Blue Water Area, as always, will be well represented at the competitions.
In fact, the local area will have several teams that will likely be viewed as favorites going in. At the top of that list is Port Huron Northern and St. Clair High School.
In Division 1, Northern will travel to Utica Eisenhower, where they will likely face a stiff challenge from the host school. The Huskies must finish in the top two teams or with 18 or more points to qualify for the state tournament.
Northern has been so good over the years that its coach, Char Sweeney can’t even remember how many years in a row the team has qualified.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” Sweeney said. “We have favorable seeds in every flight. If we play to our seeds, it will be a good day. The boys have been working hard. We will have a light practice (Thursday) and taper off a bit. I think they are peaking at the right time.
“We are looking for good weather and it is a lot of things that have to happen to have a regional win. We have to be well rested, hungry and have good conditions. If those things are there it will be a good day.”
St. Clair meanwhile will host its Division 3 district in conjunction with Marysville. The Saints and Vikings will face other local teams including Yale, Armada, Croswell-Lexington, Richmond and Marine City.
The top two teams and the other teams that finish with more than 10 points will qualify for the state finals.
“We had a tournament last weekend that we won,” St. Clair coach Dave Clutts said. “That was a pretty good thing going into the (regional) tournament. I do wish we had more matches. We had a couple tournaments rained out. I was hoping as a whole we would have played more matches going into it.
“We are sort of inexperienced in spots. We have definitely seen some progress and growth. Obviously our goal is to do well at regionals and do better and better at the state finals. I feel we are in a better position than in the past.”
St. Clair has qualified for the state finals in 17 consecutive years and have won 12 regional tournaments in the past 20 years.
“I was just talking to my boys about how you never take these for granted,” Clutts said. “You don’t take a regional for granted. It’s four legitimate teams. We are all fighting to get out. We have a target on our back and the moment you let your guard down you can lose.”
Northern meanwhile echoed those sentiments.
“I don’t feel like we have a bulls-eye on our back in as much as you get to go in there with the confidence that you are usually one of the top seeds in every flight,” coach Sweeney said. “You have to bring your best stuff. Everyone is looking to knock Northern off. You can never be casual about those things. But it gives you confidence if you play solid, things will be OK.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.
•Port Huron Northern at Utica Eisenhower
•Port Huron at Grosse Pointe North
•Marysville, Armada, Cros-Lex, Richmond, Yale, Marine City at St. Clair
•Sandusky at Almont