The girls varsity tennis team is on its way to the state championship tournament after winning regionals for the second consecutive year.
After an undefeated season of 11-0-1, the Pioneers edged Livonia Churchill by one on May 20 at regionals, finishing with 24 points. Freshman Megan Bolger and her partner were the No. 4 doubles pair who earned the team its regional title in the final championship match.
“We were really tired, but my partner and I kept pushing through it,” Bolger said. “Coach was a really big help because he kept us going and it was exhausting but we went into three sets. We won the first match, lost the second, and ended up winning the third.”
Coach Steve Behmlander said the goal at the beginning of the season was to win the regional tournament after a successful season.
The Pioneers were unable to practice together as a team until after March 14, according MHSAA rules. So at 12:01 a.m. that day at the , Behmlander set up a March Midnight Madness event that kicked off the new season. He said there was music, photographers, food and, of course, plenty of tennis tournaments.
Behmlander emphasized how experience has given the Pioneers an upper hand with a junior-heavy roster this year.
“What this group garnered last year was that they were able to see the level of talent at states,” Behmlander said. “Now they know what to expect, so there’s that learning curve and that’s sort of that big stage where you do need to learn to win.”
However, the team’s biggest challenge isn’t opposing teams, according to Behmlander. He said the team needs to work on staying focused and planning ahead.
“I think a little planning goes a long way,” he said. “We do a lot of planning in pre-season so there isn’t much goofing around developing doubles teams and so on. I’m big into making sure that they know what’s expected of them.”
The Pioneers are a tight-knit team with lots of enthusiasm preparing for the big tournaments. The team’s chemistry is not only apparent, but strategic as well. Behmlander’s method of pairing doubles teams begins with making sure the two are friends, so that way they can use the most important weapon: communication.
Dearborn High’s No. 1 doubles pair is juniors Dema Fawaz and Deema Hagehassan, and its No. 1 singles player is the team’s sole senior, Amanda Bloom. Bloom expressed just how much winning a state championship would mean as the topper to her last year on the team.
“That would be amazing–especially it being my senior year. That would mean the world to me,” Bloom said. “I would be so proud of everyone for trying their best. Not to be negative but there’s not a big chance of winning, but it would be pretty cool if we did win.”
The team is set to travel to Midland on June 2 and will compete June 3-4. Behmlander and his team have high hopes to end their season just as they began: in celebration.