Traverse City Central wins 11th straight Big North Conference tennis championship

May 9—TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central needs a bigger tennis board.

Or maybe another one.

The Trojans filled out one of the current boards at the TC Central Tennis Center, coincidentally adding the program's 24th Big North Conference championship in 2024.

The venue's sign listing girls tennis BNC titles had only one unoccupied spot coming into Thursday's final. Consider it filled.

"We're feeling pretty confident," third-year head coach Lisa Seymour said. "We're kind of firing on all cylinders right now. We're right where we want to be at this time of year."

Central won its 11th consecutive BNC title, including its third outright in a row under Seymour. Those 24 total Big North crowns come in a span of 27 years.

Three teams won all eight flights between them, with Central and TC West each taking three and Petoskey taking home wins at the top two singles flights.

The Trojans claimed the overall title, which is decided half by regular-season duals and the rest by the BNC championship tournament. Central won both sides to finish first overall, followed by TC West second, Petoskey and Cadillac in a dead heat for third, and Alpena last.

"Central, in tennis every year, is kind of expected to win, which makes it a little bit harder," Trojans' senior Natalie Bourdo said. "That means everyone's kind of coming for you. You have a lot more pressure because you have to hold your flight all the way. But it's fun. Everyone here is so nice. It's always a really fun day with great sportsmanship."

Bourdo and playing partner Wren Walker breezed through No. 1 doubles, dropping only one point.

"Our net game was pretty good," Bourdo said. "We were able to put away a lot of points at the net, which helped us a lot. We were pretty offensive throughout the day."

Central's No. 2 doubles tandem of seniors Carly Galsterer and Audrey Parker did them one better, not losing a single game on the way to the flight championship.

Bourdo and Walker have a 19-4 record this season, and Galsterer and Parker are 21-3.

"One- and two-doubles are powerhouses," Seymour said. "I don't really have to worry too much about them. They're pretty competitive with even the top teams in the state."

Central also won No. 3 doubles with the pair of junior Annie Goldkuhle and freshman Macy Parker, who are 15-10 this season.

TC West won three flights, taking No. 3 and 4 singles with Myah Skroupski (17-8) and Maya Wilson (21-4) and No. 4 doubles with junior Sonjena Hart and freshman Marella Mast (21-4).

"Last year, we took third and we dropped a lot of close matches to Cadillac," West head coach Kyle Warner said. "This year, we won those matches and we took it to Central, and that's always the goal. Us winning three flights and them winning three flights, that's improvement over last year. It's credit to the hard work the girls have put in all year long."

Central snuck by West 5-3 in their regular-season league dual.

West heads to the Division 1 Holland West Ottawa regional next Thursday, but first the Titans host Division 4 No. 3-ranked TC St. Francis on Monday. A win there would give West an even 10 dual victories this season, the program's most in several years.

Petoskey went up a spot in the final standings, moving from fourth into a tie for third with Cadillac.

A pair of big singles championships made that happen.

Freshman Tara Brantly avenged losses to both Cadillac and Central, posting a 6-3, 6-3 semifinal victory against Cadillac and a 6-4, 6-1 No. 2 singles championship match win over TC Central to even her record at 9-9 on the season.

Senior Katya Peck did much the same, knocking off Central's top-seeded Alexis Smith at No. 1 singles for the first time in two seasons with a 6-4, 6-0 victory in a battle of baseliners.

"I played a lot better and I really powered through," Peck said. "I prefer to play someone who's better than me because I like a challenge."

Peck, who transferred to Petoskey as a junior from Washington, D.C., is 9-4 this season after a runner-up BNC spot last year.

"It feels really great, feels really refreshing," Peck said. "I came in with a positive attitude, and I just wanted to play the best that I could."

Playing in a Division 2 regional with fewer teams means the No. 9-ranked Trojans only need to score 10 team points to advance to the state finals for the 43rd consecutive season instead of 18 in most seasons.

"I'm pretty confident with our doubles abilities," Seymour said. "Singles are tough when you get out of northern Michigan and get into regionals, but we're built on the strength of our doubles. That's the Larry Nykerk tradition. We feel pretty confident going into regionals as well."

Midland Dow is ranked just ahead of Central at No. 7 in Division 2.

The Trojans went 4-4 vs. Dow in a tournament earlier this season.

"It's between us and Dow for the region for the most part," Bourdo said. "At least it should be."

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