Brandon Folsom, Port Huron Times Herald Published 11:11 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2019 | Updated 1:19 p.m. ET Oct. 13, 2019
All eight flights from both the St. Clair and Almont boys tennis teams are going to the state championship.
It wasn’t the way senior Eli Pinnoo wanted to end his last match ever at St. Clair’s tennis courts.
For the Saints to share the Division 3 regional title with No. 2-ranked Cranbrook Kingswood on Friday, their Nos. 1 and 2 singles needed to win both of their matches.
No. 1 Derek Distelrath took care of business, topping Cranbrook’s Owen Demuth 6-3 and 6-1 to win his flight.
Then the spotlight was placed on Pinnoo, who was playing an opponent he had never lost to before. His match with Cranbrook’s Nolan Sherwood was the final one for the day. It was the difference between first and second place. A lot was on the line here.
“I didn’t really feel any pressure going into it,” the No. 2 singles player said. “Even while playing, I was just relaxed and ready to bring it.”
Sherwood opened with a 7-5 victory, but Pinnoo battled back for a 6-2 win in the next set.
“I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got this. I can bring it back,'” Pinnoo said. “And I did for the second set, which was good.”
But Sherwood walked away with the upset win with a 6-2
victory in the final set.
“I felt like I played really well, but he just really brought his ‘A’ game,” said Pinnoo, a state runner-up a year ago. “I’ve just got to know that my opponents sometimes play their best some
days. There’s nothing I can do except try my best in return.”
The Saints qualified its entire starting lineup to the state finals, slated for Friday and Saturday at Kalamazoo College. It’ll be the 23rd straight season they’ve made the finals under coach Dave Clutts.
Making the trip west will be singles Distelrath, Eli Pinnoo, Michael Mascarin and Ian Pinnoo and the doubles teams of Quinn and Hadley Schwarz, Ethan Urban and Joey Fajardo, Patrick Mason and Eli Lohr and Will Wentrack and Jared Kemp.
Unfortunately for Eli Pinnoo, he’ll never play an MHSAA match at his home courts again.
“I’m going to miss it,” he said. “And all the good memories that came with it.”
In its D-4 regional, Almont qualified its entire starting lineup for the state championship Friday and Saturday at Hope College.
That includes singles Thomas Manko, Sam Bussone, Ethan Marcola and Jack Jellison as well as the doubles teams of Darren Herman and Jack Korte, Paul Biolchini and Jacob Rahl, Nathan Castillo and Trey Bellanger and Blake Campbell and Luke Schlanderer.
Brandon Folsom is the sports reporter at the Times Herald. Do you have a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to follow him on Twitter.