(click on coach's name to read more about them)

GIRLS (Spring)
BOYS (Fall)
1 - Dave Pietrangelo, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 1 - Chris Wilton, Grand Haven

2 - Chris Phillips, Lowell

2 - John Carr, St. Clair Shores Lakeview
3 - Pam Porter, Stevensville Lakeshore

3 - Kyle Kreps, Holland

4 - Cody Liverance, North Muskegon 4 - Bradley Miedema, Hudsonville Unity Christian

GIRLS (Spring)
Dave Pietrangelo, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek - Division 1

The community of Rochester has always produced strong high school tennis teams. One only has to point to the Rochester High School squads of Jerry Murphy (who is entering his 51st year of leadership this year) or those of Adams’ Al Must. The teams of these gentlemen could be found annually at the top of their regional outcomes and in the mix at the state level year after year. Al led a state championship girls squad back in 1987.  Both of these coaches are in our Hall of Fame.


But when Stoney Creek entered the mix in 2001, the tennis situation became similar to the one in Ann Arbor where  Skyline became the third high school in that school district. The already considerable talent pool got spread across three schools, not two. To be sure, both of the other high schools still produced excellent tennis teams but the wealth was dispersed to the point where an Ann Arbor team was not necessarily a state champion “given.”


At the outset, there were some superb players at the top positions, but the quality would get weaker further down the line. That was the situation that Dave Pietrangelo inherited when he assumed leadership of both the boys and girls teams five years ago.


 “When I took over, the teams were set up with heavy top-end talent and not a ton lower,” he says.

In spite of this situation, his girls have done remarkably well against their cross-town rivals. In the past five years against Adams, this team has always prevailed with the exception of this past spring when they tied. The same has applied to contests against rival Jerry Murphy’s Rochester: three wins against one loss and one season scratched due to Covid.


But as can be expected, competition gets brutal once Stoney Creek leaves home. The OAA Red is “easily the best in the state, I’d say, so we almost always finish near the bottom,” says Dave. “But we recorded our first ever win against Groves this year and (non conference) the first win over Grosse Pte. South.” [EDitor’s Note: Those victories ain’t small potatoes, especially in Division 1.]


Getting out of the regional and on to the final tournament is also not easy, “At regionals we were third with quite a finish, only 2 points behind the winner and 1 behind Ike [Utica Eisenhower],” he says. To go to show how close everything was, Port Huron Northern won our regional but we tied with them at states in 8th place, and actually finished ahead of IKE who finished 2nd in our regional. It was a dog fight.”


In addition, shepherding girls throughout the spring, end-of-school activities can cause conflicts. “We had moved regionals from Friday to Thursday and my seniors had prom on that Wednesday night,” he says. “Following that up, my girls graduated -- again on another Wednesday night when states were also pushed to Thursday.


“So I went to the all night party but I left at 1:00 am. However, the other three seniors stayed to the end. The worst part was that I didn't find out until the morning that one of those girls actually drove them to “states” on their own after getting zero sleep.”


Still, the result: an eighth place tie with the winner of his regional and a bit ahead of the team that finished second to his team’s third at that same regional.


Dave was an all-sports athlete at Troy Athens under Hall of Famer Warren Block. He was a very successful 4D and 1D player but discovered that playing 1S meant that no matter how weak an opposing school was, they would almost always have at least one person who could play. “Things were rough,” he says. “I was definitely not college material.”


In his senior year, he got to play for present-day Athens coach Andrew Shipp. “He was a pleasure to lead but it’s even more impressive to watch him coach,” says Andrew. “He brings so much energy and excitement to the tennis court that it’s infectious to everyone around him.”


Indeed, he was so dedicated to the game that he played his way to a USTA 4.5 level, strong enough and knowledgeable enough to make a living as a teaching pro.


“I took tennis seriously when I started working full time at Lifetime in Rochester Hills in 2008,” he says.


“He organizes and plays on a USTA team as an adult and he is a great example to his players and community of the joy that tennis can bring throughout life,” says Andrew. “His passion for tennis is undeniable.”

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GIRLS (Spring)
Chris Phillips, Lowell - Division 2

Chris Phillips got into tennis in 6th grade when the current varsity coach at Byron Center hosted an after school session once per week (varsity coaches these days should take note of this). This was the impetus for his involvement in the Ralph Ellis USTA program. “We played in regional tournaments and I was always involved in Byron Center’s summer camps,” he says, “but I mainly learned by playing with friends. I was never in super competitive tournaments.”


But once he got to high school, Chris was strong enough to spend four years on the varsity. He played doubles as a freshman and eventually moved up to the 1S position. He also continued to take lessons.


This established a solid foundation for becoming a high school tennis coach. An instructor of digital photography, engineering, and architecture at Lowell High School, he started working with the boys JV team in his second year at the school. It turned out to be a “two-fer” in that he coached boys in the spring of 2007 and then boys again in the fall of that year as high school tennis in Michigan transitioned because of the Gender Equity ruling.


All total, Chris was the beneficiary of a six-year learning experience under Hall of Fame coach Bonnie Wall and her husband Roger. By 2013, he was seasoned and ready to take over the girls, supported by the very knowledgeable and experienced assistance of Sue Beute. He assumed the position of boys varsity coach the next year. He also started managing the all-important summer program at that time


Lowell has always had “a pretty good program” (his words) but competes in a very tough conference, the OK White which includes perennial powers Forest Hills Northern, Forest Hills Central, and East Grand Rapids. “We’re usually happy when we finish the season in the middle of the standings,” he says.


“Here in Lowell, we don’t get a lot of players who play competitively -- who take lessons throughout the year,” he says. Nevertheless, a few at the 1S position have made it to the state finals.


An example of this pertains to his most current top player. “I was really happy with how my 1st Singles girl has come along these last few years,” he says.  “She really learned to settle down and play a more consistent game and it showed.  She had a great record for her last two years and I was really proud of her.”


This past spring, his girls were 8-5 and especially successful with non conference matches. “We like to use Grand Rapids Northview as a ‘measuring stick’ each season because we are usually very competitive with them,” he says.  “I enjoy playing against Seth Howe and his teams.  This year we were able to overtake them. “We’ve never made it to a state finals as a team, but I enjoy helping kids improve and seeing them have fun.”


This attitude has been valued by colleagues. “I’ve always appreciated Chris and his relationship with his team since my first year coaching against him,” says Dan Bolhouse of Forest Hills Central, himself a State Coach of the Year. “He has my respect for the way he runs his program and gets the best from his teams. He is a great coach and an even better person.”


“Coaching Lowell JV Tennis alongside Chris has been pure you for me,” says Sue who received a well-deserved Distinguished Service Award from our organization last year. “When he came aboard ten years ago, he inherited me. Being twice his age, I told him that I would not be hurt if he wanted to replace me with a much younger person but he chose to keep me on and has always treated me with great respect and made me feel a valuable part of the program. He is a Mr. Nice Guy of very few words but his integrity and strong faith speak for him.”

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GIRLS (Spring)
Pam Porter, Stevensville Lakeshore - Division 3

 It was over two decades ago that the board of education at Stevensville sponsored tennis at Lakeshore High School, but as one area coach observed back then, “It really wasn’t a tennis team.”


Then Pam Porter came to town. A native of Pittsburgh, Kansas, she was a walk-on tennis player for the Jay Hawks. Her coach at the University of Kansas had a Michigan connection which brought her to the area with a degree in Exercise Physiology. She taught 8th grade science at Lakeshore Middle School and got to know the kids both on and off the court.


Within the first five years, Pam had changed the culture of Lakeshore tennis. She molded these kids into polite, well-dressed, well-organized teams who knew how to beat people, too. They recorded victories over such established programs as Sturgis and once tied with Petoskey at a Saturday tournament. Her kids were 11-1-2 in 2000 and 49-8-3 in that half decade. These Lancers also won a regional and advanced to the state finals for the first time in the school’s history.


That was (gasp!) 22 years ago. Fast forward (or so it seems as time flies) to spring 2022 when Pam completed her 30th and final season as girls coach at Lakeshore. During those three decades, the way she handled her kids and herself gained lots of admirers.


This is a lady who would call or text to congratulate one of her opponent’s players or team. “When our 1S was in the state finals last year,” says Allegan girls coach and current MHTeCA president Jen Aldrich, “Pam wished her good luck and then called on her way home to see how the match ended up. Not many coaches think of other teams. She always does.”


Jen uses words such as straight shooter, classy, and organized to describe Pam. “She holds her players accountable. They are well behaved, disciplined, competitive, and fair. Playing Lakeshore means that there will be a battle on the court but sportsmanship will be the top priority.””


“Pam embodies everything a high school coach should be,” confirms Kim Bartz of Edwardsburg, herself a State Coach of the Year. “Her friendship has made Southwest Michigan a great place to play tennis over the last two decades. Her program continually produced great athletes and wonderful young women who were a pleasure to compete against.”


“She served on the MHSTeCA board for six years,” says Gary Ellis. “She saw the big picture. She came to regional seed meetings well prepared to support her players to the extent that their records allowed.” Unfortunately, coaches throughout the state can affirm that this is not always the case.


Long ago, Pam started the Niles Brandywine girls tennis program before being hired away to Lakeshore. The Brandywine duties were then assumed by Joe Marazita who went on to acquire a Hall of Fame plaque 17 years later.

After 30 years of teaching, Pam retired two years ago but continued coaching in the midst of bike riding through Spain, visiting Dublin, and taking trips to Florida, Arizona, and California.


She will co-coach this spring before stepping down amidst the enduring respect of her colleagues.


I’m a big believer in girls being coached by female coaches,” she says. “I think it’s good for them to see females in leadership roles. It has become so rare these days.”

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GIRLS (Spring)
Cody Liverance, North Muskegon - Division 4

It took Cody Liverance a mere two years (actually one year if you consider the absence of a season due to Covid) to garner his second State Coach of the Year award. In 2020, he was recognized for his work with the North Muskegon boys team. This past June, he was voted a Girls Coach of the Year honor.


Indeed, certain parents must have known something when they went out of their way to recruit North Muskegon’s boys coach to lead their girls.


Back in 2016, Cody had taken the boys coaching job, in part to make sure that he had a position that would tie him to Muskegon area schools. To be sure, he impressed but he had no plans to coach the girls. However, at a North Muskegon Athletic Boosters fund raiser, he was approached by a few parents of female players on the girls team.


“They basically bribed me with the fact that the girls had been traditionally the much stronger program in recent years and that they were much easier to coach,” he says. “This was very appealing to me as I had just finished my first year of coaching the boys at the ripe old age of 23 and did not have a ton of team success while also dealing with several headaches on the team in terms of chemistry, respect, and team building.  I hesitantly decided to accept the girls job for the spring of 2017 to just see what it would be like and how it would compare to the boys team.”


“It was one of the best professional decisions I ever made,” he continues. “I've enjoyed every moment as the girls coach and it has really been fun to have so much success at the state level, similar to what we had with the boys team when I was in school,”


Success, indeed. This past spring, Cody’s kids went 14-1-2, accomplishing their three main goals: win the city, conference, and regional championships. They “squeaked” (his word) by always powerful Grand Rapids Catholic Central at the regional by one point and then carried the momentum into the state finals at the U of M varsity courts in a tie for fourth with Elk Rapids and Jackson Lumen Christi. Two of his flights reached the second day where they lost narrow semifinal matches.


“In my five state finals appearances, we have always had at least one flight make it to the second day which is always a goal because of the experience that brings the girls of having one more team dinner together and getting one more night in a motel,” he says.


“We had almost every girl on our team either moving into our lineup for the first time, moving up a flight or more from where they were the previous season, or switching from singles to doubles,” he says. “I truly believed we overachieved from where I thought we would be at the beginning of the season and that is a huge testament to our girls. They deserve all the credit and I was honored to be their coach this year and be along for the ride.”


There are those who would dispute the humility. Their coach, after all is now a two-time Coach of the Year and four of these kids gained some form of all-state recognition.


North Muskegon’s High School is Cody’s alma mater. The school’s tennis programs lanquished a bit after Hall of Famer Joe Gentle retired. Cody attended one of Joe’s summer tennis camps but otherwise simply played for fun until between his sophomore and junior high school years he got talked into playing on a team that was lacking in numbers. As it turns out, the following year the team he played for finished 5th in the state. That planted a seed.

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BOYS (Fall)
Chris Wilton, Grand Haven - Division 1

Relatively speaking, Chris Wilton came to the part-time job of coaching high school tennis late in life but with a wealth of tennis knowledge and teaching experience. Prior to leading the Buccaneers, a team for which he played at 1S back in the day, he worked at Norton Pines Athletic Club from 1990 to 2009 as the Director of Tennis.


In that time, the facility’s staff established a strong junior program. Chris coached Jill Wieman, daughter of former board member Greg and eventually a state champion. He worked with Patrick Eagan from age 9 who went on to play for Charlie Bassett at Spring Lake and compiled a 124-1 high school record.


But Chris left when the ownership changed and began creating tennis programs of his own. “He started giving tennis lessons in the Grand Haven summer program,” says former Spring Lake coach Charlie Bassett who benefitted greatly from the work of Chris. That’s because Coach Wilton trained kids who would go on to be Buccaneer opponents. “I have seen a great connection to his players and the parents of his teams and of the opposing teams,” says Charlie.


Chris eventually took his skills and experience into coaching middle school kids. He instructed boys and girls programs in Grand Haven for four years and prior to that, two years as JV coach at Muskegon Mona Shores under Jeff Bush. That’s a total of 10 seasons of experience on top of his teaching professional job before he took the varsity position at his alma mater.


Chris describes arriving at the high school job as “good timing” in that he was able to coach his own kids. Their exploits made him a veritable Mr. Tennis Father in the area. One daughter played 1S for three years and went on to compete for Kalamazoo College. A son was regional champion who enrolled in Ferris State’s Professional Tennis Management Program and is currently a teaching professional in Chicago. Another son was 1S in high school all four years, won every dual meet match in the conference during that time, qualified for state competition as an individual for three years, and is now a USTA official. A daughter who is still in high school was the school’s 1S until injuries sidelined her.


This past season was a particularly gratifying one for his boys squad. This was the first time that the Buccaneers made “states” in 12 years. In other words, the campaign becomes a milestone which provides an all-important incentive to repeat.


“The two biggest highlights of the season were at the OK Red Conference and Regionals,” he says.  “We finished 4th in the regular season just behind Rockford but at the conference tournament the kids flipped four matches that we had lost to Rockford and our 1 singles player won the conference championship after losing twice to the same person through the season.  That gave us 3rd at the conference tournament.”


The regional result was also rewarding. “At the beginning of the season, we started talking about how we could make it to states,” he says. Through the regular season and even based on the seeds at regionals, we were not supposed to make it. 


At regionals, we had 17 points with our 4 singles players all playing people they had lost to during the season.  Our 4 singles player caught fire and won in 3 sets to give us 18 (Thank you, Jerry Murphy) and our 3 singles player played great to win the regional championship to give us 19 points.” Always-powerful Hudsonville was first while Grand Haven finished a mere two points behind West Ottawa.


 For his part, Chris himself competed for Grand Haven High School at 1S and was a strong player amidst an abundance of superb competition in that era. “He always displayed great sportsmanship as a player,” says Charlie. Players from Holland made life even tougher but it didn’t deter him from trying out for the U of M team as a walk-on. He missed making the team by a whisker.


He was the beneficiary in terms of the leadership examples of Hall of Famers Tiger Teusink and Karen Page -- along with the highly respected workshop clinician Kirk Anderson -- at the Holland Tennis Club.


“I had the privilege of working side by side with Chris as I succeeded him as Western Michigan Tennis Association President a few years ago, “says Peter Militzer of Portage Central. “He was a great mentor, and his love and passion for the sport of tennis was always evident.”


“Chris later became the Executive Director of the WMTA, a position he still holds,” continues Peter. “In that position he’s able to work with tennis coaches and players throughout the entire WMTA District, and he’s done a great job in that role. He was innovative in terms of the ways that tennis facilities dealt with the effects of the pandemic and he did his best to figure out how to optimize the tennis experience for players at facilities where each had different levels of restrictions and procedures.”


“He is a true professional,” says Charlie.

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BOYS (Fall)
John Carr, St. Clair Shores Lakeview - Division 2

John Carr is a busy man. He is the athletic co-ordinator at Lakeview High School in St Clair Shores which means that he takes care of schedule making, tickets, security and all the other picky details that go into hosting games in every sport that the school offers. He has coached football, track, and  softball at his alma mater. He is currently serving in his 12th year as the varsity basketball coach, a time consumer if there ever was one. And for the past six years, he has been both the boys and girls tennis coach. This means that he coaches either a tennis team or the basketball squad from August to June during each school year. One wonders if his wife and four kids ever see him.

If they do, they probably enjoyed the company of a happy man this past fall. John’s charges finished at 8-3, won a Saturday tournament, captured the conference title, and finished fourth at the regional. This was a very successful season “for the level we compete at,” he says.  In the previous season, his kids tied for the Dual Division Championship. “I knew coming in to 2022 that we would have a great chance to have success in that we returning multiple players.”

He was right. The kids went 5-0 whlle surrendering only one flight in those contests. They won the division by capturing 39 out of 40 points, an “almost sweep.”

Finishing fourth in the regional might not seem like a triumph until you consider the competition. Lakeview’s kids received six seeds in eight flights and everyone won their first match. They then had to confront either Grosse Pte. South or Grosse Pte. North. That’s a bit like Saline doing well until they reach Pioneer, Huron, or Skyline.

John has every reason to be pleased. When he took over the program he was fielding a “team” of only nine players. That has changed over the years. Now he has an abundance and only one kid graduates from this year’s contingent.

“John’s program is basically a grassroots program that he has improved upon every year,” says Dave Fredette. “When I had a team drop out of one of our quad tournaments, I asked him if he could bring his team to Armada on such notice of only 3 days.  He instantly complied. He wanted his kids to get as much competitive experience as possible.” 

The history of high school tennis has revealed that basketball coaches make good tennis coaches if the individual knows something about the game rather than merely tossing out balls and collecting additional coaching money from a reward-job. They know how to discipline, how to handle pushy parents, and how to organize practices that inspire when it comes time to compete. The legendary Tiger Teusink is a classic example. In his early years, he considered himself a basketball coach, not a tennis coach.

For his part, John played tennis “all the time” while growing up in the Metro Detroit area even though his school didn’t offer the sport. He continued while in the military and throughout adult life. This, plus 12 years of coaching varsity basketball has given him a solid foundation in the unique area of managing high school kids.

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BOYS (Fall)
Kyle Kreps, Holland- Division 3

Holland has been a mecca for tennis for over a half century. The community boasts a wealth of high-quality courts: Holland High School, Holland Christian, the DeWitt Tennis Center, and West Ottawa in addition to some fine public facilities

This wealth extends to certain coaches who were so good at what they did that they are in our Hall of Fame. Joe Moran and his player-turned-coach Tiger Teusink were inducted together into the very first class in 1986. Holland Christian’s Clare Pott followed in 1992 and Tom Buursma in 1997. Add former MHSTeCA president, West Ottawa varsity coach, and Hope College women’s coach Karen Page (1996) to the group.  Last year, Holland Christian’s John Knoester joined them.


This is pretty heady stuff for anyone who would deem to coach a team at the Tiger Teusink Tennis Courts but Kyle Kreps came well-equipped back in 2016.


He started playing tennis in 7th grade in a Holland program and was instantly hooked. He finished his Holland High School playing career at 1S for Kevin O’Keefe and then went on to compete for Hope College. He found himself mostly in the middle of the lineup at 4S and 2D, contributing with great satisfaction in his senior year from being part of a team which earned a piece of the MIAAA title. He was the recipient of the conference’s Allen B. Stowe Sportsmanship Award in 2013.


Because he was a student teacher at West Ottawa High School, Kyle helped out with their JV team for a year before going back to his alma mater at the request of Kevin. He led that squad for three years before taking over the varsity girls in 2016. When Kevin stepped down, Kyle became the boys varsity coach as well.

 It hasn’t been easy. Over the years, Holland has vacillated between “playing up” in Division 1, competing in Division 2, and finally settling into Division 3


Prior to the fall of 2022, the goals of the boys squad -- which contained nine seniors -- consisted of winning the conference and qualifying for the state tournament. Instead, they came in a disappointing second (for the third consecutive year) but they showed signs that they could compete. The Dutch came as close to Zeeland West as ever, losing 5-3 with two matches going three sets.


But qualifying for the final tournament turned out to be absolutely amazing given the circumstances. “Sitting at 7 points, our #4 doubles team upset Zeeland West in the semis (a team they had just lost to days before) 6-4, 7-6,” he says. “Five minutes later, our #2 doubles team upset Zeeland West, winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. They were down 2-5 in the third set. Two minutes after the completion of that match, our #4 singles player, the 4 seed, defeated the #1 seeded player from Hamilton, winning 6-4, 6-1. In less than 10 minutes we had earned upsets at three flights and qualified for the state finals for the first time since 2005.”


Kyle, a middle school physical education teacher, has been voted Regional Coach of the Year for three consecutive years and was named Regional COY after the girls season of 2019. He has recently joined the MHSTeCA board of directors, one more aspect that carries on a tradition established by Tiger.


“I am truly blessed to coach at my alma mater, a place I love,” he says.  “I will always look to teach my players to handle themselves with class, be the best teammates they can be, and take pride in representing our school.”

He has certainly done that and done so by serving as a great example.

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BOYS (Fall)
Bradley Miedema, Hudsonville Unity Christian - Division 4

It didn’t take Bradley Miedema very long to make a significant impact on D4 boys tennis. In a mere three years at the helm of Hudsonville Unity Christian, his kids have gone 46-6-4. They finished 2nd in the state in 2020 and 6th in 2021, This past fall they were again state runners-up, finishing just three points behind vaunted University Liggett.

Moreover, they left traditionally strong programs well behind them. The squad finished five points ahead of  Traverse City St. Francis, last year’s champion, 10 points ahead of Kalamazoo Hackett Prep


Going 11-2 in dual meet play, the team’s only two losses were to Holland Christian who finished 9th in Division 3 and Big Rapids. “After those losses, we took a hard look at ourselves and saw where we needed to get better, he says. “Once we did that, we put our heads down at practice and the guys put in the hard work to improve in those areas.”


They certainly did ....  improve that is. Efforts at the final tournament were indeed gratifying. They included a 1S who beat a player to whom he lost earlier in the season. 2S came back from a set down and break to reach the semifinals. 3S was down 0-3 in the third set in his quarterfinal match to not only win but go on to win the state flight championship. Bradley’s first doubles team reached the final match after losing first round last year. 2D won the state flight championship. 3D were semifinalists. 4D also made the semifinals but they did it by beating a team for the third time in yet another close contest. That is no small feat.


Two state champions, one finalist, three semifinalists, and two quarterfinalists equals a state runner-up finish and a trophy to take home to the school.


The team also triumphed at the regional, putting together 29 points to second place Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s 18. This is noteworthy in that Pat Williams’ team is always strong and she, a Hall of Famer, has completed her 49th year of coaching tennis there.


The results: first place in the regional and second in the state.  “There is always a way to win,” he states. “The guys did their best and I have no regrets in how they played. We met our expectations. The only real goal that we make is to make it to the state tournament and we did that.”


“He had great control of his team,” says University Liggett’s Mark Sobieralski who was the state champion coach, his fourth. “His kids competed hard and best of all, they displayed very good sportsmanship and class.”


Brad grew up in Allendale and got involved in tennis because his grandparents would go down to Arizona during the winter enabling him to pick up a racket there and enjoy the activity. He played high school tennis at Hudsonville Unity Christian and competed three years at Cornerstone University


He was told about the job at his alma mater when his former coach decided to step down. “I knew nothing about coaching high school tennis so I was the assistant coach for two years with another former coach of the program until I was ready,” he says.


Ready? Case closed.

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