Cranrbrook-Kingswood’s girls tennis wins four straight state titles
June 9, 2014
It was early May, and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood tennis coach Jeff Etterbeek still didn’t exactly know the kind of team he had on his hands.
“I didn’t think we were the favorites at the beginning of the season; however, sometimes it takes a while for the team to develop some chemistry, especially in doubles,” he said, noting that he saw a change in his squad at a tournament at East Grand Rapids. “Our team came together; it was almost like they had an epiphany. They started getting their chemistry in order, and from that point, I felt like we could do well at states. They all worked hard and had great attitudes.”
The Cranes went on to win their fourth Division 3 title in a row May 31 at Kalamazoo College, finishing with 35 points, 11 more than second-place Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. It was Cranbrook’s fifth title since 2008.
“I think this year was much more challenging than last,” Etterbeek said. “This year, we had a lot of young players, and they all really, really stepped up and performed well at the tournament.
“Playing in the state tournament is pretty nerve-wracking, but our goal is always to perform at our best and also to play to win, not to lose. We may not win this thing, but we’re going to go down swinging.”
Etterbeek said the common thread in all the championships is senior Alexandria Najarian.
She finished her career 77-1 overall and with three individual state championships at No. 1 singles. Next year, she’ll play for the University of Michigan.
“She’s been a team leader in every sense. She’s a great team player; she gives her self up for the team and brings everybody’s level up,” Etterbeek said. “She’s a very special person. She always put the team ahead of herself, and you don’t see that very often from a person of her caliber of player.”
The Cranes are graduating four seniors from the squad, leaving an expected eight returning starters.
“We’ll be in good shape, but the competition is also getting better all the time,” Etterbeek said. “We’ll definitely see that next year.”