By Scott Keyes
Special for Second Half
MIDLAND – Utica Davina Nguyen fought through injuries all season long.
Up until a few weeks she didn't even know if she would be back to play for her third Lower Peninsula Division 1 No. 1 singles championship.
Despite the adversity, Nguyen played her best tennis of the season this weekend, making history by winning her third consecutive MHSAA Finals championship at. No. 1 singles – and becoming just the sixth player to win the top flight at least three times.
Nguyen won in grand style by defeating rival Ava Thielman of Utica Eisenhower, 6-3, 6-3, at the Greater Midland Tennis Center.
While Nguyen continued to rewrite the record books in singles competition, Northville added a page of its own by winning its first-ever MHSAA girls tennis title.
"I had some nagging injuries this season that really slowed me down, but I knew I was going to be back this season. But it really was a matter of when it was going to happen," said Nguyen, who will play her college tennis at Michigan State University. "Winning three straight titles is an amazing feeling. The support from my friends and family has been tremendous."
Thielman had defeated Nguyen twice before this season. But carrying the pressure of the MHSAA Finals, the senior (Nguyen) prevailed over the sophomore (Thielman).
"When you get to this point in the season, there is a lot of pressure on you to get the job done, but I did it," Nguyen said. "It's an amazing feeling to win three state titles."
Northville won five flights to finish with 33 points. Midland Dow (28), Grosse Pointe South (22), Ann Arbor Pioneer (18) and Traverse City Central (17) rounded out the top five.
"We played in a lot of big tournaments this season against very tough competition from around the state to help prepare us for the tournament," Northville coach Linda Jones said. "We expected our doubles to carry us through, but our No. 2 and No. 3 singles came through and beat Dow (in the finals), and those were key points there."
"It came down to those matches, and they put us over the top."
Shanoli Kumar (Northville) defeated Jessica Brown (Midland Dow) 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, while Joanne Gao (Northville) defeated Elaina Parrillo (Midland Dow) 4-6, 6 -3, 6-2, at No. 3.
But it was in doubles where Northville has dominated all season – and did again Saturday.
The Mustangs went undefeated in all four doubles flights all season until Saturday, when Midland Dow's No. 1 pair of Afua Ofori-Darko and Kamryn Matthews upset Anika Mukherji and Reeshma Kumar 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Northville earned championships at the three remaining flights – Paige Baal and Claudia Ma at No. 2, Jordan Hermiz and Amelia Albanelli at No. 3, and Serena Wang and Molly Bis at No. 4.
"It's staggering," said Jones of the doubles play all season.
Midland Dow coach Garrett Turner was extremely impressed with the play of Northville.
“They came out swinging and firing on all cylinders,” he said.
“We played really, really well. (Friday) we had four three-set matches we won. Today we had three three-set matches we won in the semifinals.”
The runner-up finish was Midland Dow's first since 2010 when it followed up Ann Arbor Pioneer.
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PHOTOS: (Top) Northville's coaches and athletes pose with the first MHSAA team championship trophy in the school’s girls tennis history. (Middle) Davina Nguyen of Utica receives her championship medal after winning her third title at No. 1 singles. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).