It has been a season to remember for the Ferris tennis program, and this past weekend added to the already historic season.
Coming into the weekend, the Bulldogs tennis men’s and women’s teams were celebrating regular season GLIAC championships after the men’s team went undefeated at 12 – 0, while the women’s team went 13 – 1 with their only loss coming against Division I school Valparaiso. But another celebration was in order with both teams capturing the GLIAC championship on Sunday, April 25. The tennis programs acomplished their first sweep in both the regular season and GLIAC tournament since 1999.
First and foremost, head coach Mark Doren was extremely proud of the teams’ performance in the regular season, saying that the regular season championships are going to be something they are going to take the most pride. The team battled back from a long season, which was constantly being effected by COVID, playing all the conference teams atleast once, and the overall grind of the season.
“To be able to win the regular season championship was just was a huge honor and accomplishment, but then to go into the weekend. We knew we’d have a target on our back for being the top in the top teams in the conference. When probably before the season started, neither of our teams were probably looked at by the rest of the conference as being the top teams.” Doren said.
The women’s team had an intense match on the path to victory, taking on Grand Valley State and winning 4 – 3. This was the first time the women’s team swept both the regular season and GLIAC championship since 2002. They won in dramatic fashion, going into the final match tied 3 – 3.
“It was it was unbelievably close,” Doren said. “We were tied at three with one match remaining on the court, and we had a freshman out there who went to a third set. She had lost the first set, and for her to lose the first set as a freshman and come back and win the next two sets, with everybody in the crowd, both teams’ fans, all watching one court was a tremendous achievement for her.”
That freshman was GLIAC Freshman of the Year Sophie Daavettila who won via comeback after being down one set, winning 2 – 6, 6 – 3, 6 – 2 in three sets. She explained that she had never been in a situation such as this before
“I was definitely a little nervous but my coach and my assistant coach and the team they definitely helped a lot with my nerves and gave me tips,” Daavettila said. “I would go back to the curtain and I would try to block out and any of the outside noises or anything that was going on, just try to focus on the match and ended up working out for me.”
As Daavettila scored the final point, elation came from the women’s team as they charged the court to celebrate with their teammate. Daavettila explained the euphoria she felt as she won the match.
“Leading up to that point, just looking at my teammates and seeing the expressions on their faces, and then running to me and giving me the biggest hug, I was just so happy.” Daavetitila said. “A lot of them were crying, which made me start to tear up and it was a great feeling just to know that I do this for the team, and together we’re here for each other. None of us could have done it without the other ones so just knowing that I have them they’re like my family it made me feel very proud to be a part of this team.”
In the days leading up to that game, the women’s team took on Northwood on Saturday, April 24, and Saginaw Valley State on Friday, April 23. They would win both matches 4 – 0.
The men’s team also brought home a GLIAC championship after a relatively dominant victory over Grand Valley State, winning 4 – 2. Senior Mathis Guerre sat out the singles matches after a minor injury, still competing in the team’s double’s matches.
“I felt comfortable going into the match, comfortable and excited. I played well and we fought well as a team,” Freshman No. 2 singles player Jan Koupil said. “Mathis (Guerre) was sitting out from singles due to an injury, but everyone we could hear him on all six courts being extremely loud and Andrew to and coach and the girls team also came and supported us and we heard every voice that cheered for us. And it was really exciting and we’re very grateful for that support.”
The final point game down to freshman Benjamin Lortie, who won his match 7 – 6, 6 – 3. Koupil explained the reaction as the team realized they had won the championship.
“We were keeping score and then we knew there was magic point for Ben,” Koupil said. “We saw him hit that volley away, and it was surreal. It was, it’s difficult to describe it was gratifying to finally be over. We’re winning because we we’re very good.”
After the trophy celebration, awards for the GLIAC Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and Coach of the Year were all announced, with Ferris seeing players picking up awards in each category.
Guerre won GLIAC player of the year after putting together a strong season that saw him score a singles record of 8 – 4 on the season. Guerre only lost one match in double play.
Sophomore Morgan Waller won the GLIAC player of the year on the Women’s side, after she went 11 – 5 in individuals on the year.
Sophie Daavettila won GLIAC freshman of the year for the women’s team. Including her win on Sunday, her record sits at 11 – 4 individually on the season.
Coach Doren won GLIAC coach of the year for both men’s and women’s, after the two teams combined for a 31 – 1 regular season and both GLIAC championships.
Next up for the Ferris tennis program will be the NCAA Midwest Regionals, which will take place May 7 – 9 in Midland.