Sacred Heart tennis team trusts their coach to win sixth state championship
Jun 5, 2019
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Judy Hehs has been a beloved fixture at the Academy of the Sacred Heart for three decades.
She arrived on the scene in 1988 and coached basketball until 1996, when she moved over to tennis, a sport in which she excelled at Bloomfield Hills Marian and at Kalamazoo College, a member of two MIAA conference champions.
For the past 19 years, she also served Sacred Heart as principal.
“How have you changed over those years?” she was asked.
She reflected for a moment.
“I don’t think I’ve changed a lot. I love young people. I respect them,” she said. “They have to know they can trust you. Give them an opportunity to learn.”
That notion of trust was put to a severe test in January, particularly for the tennis team, when it became public knowledge that Hehs would be leaving Sacred Heart at the end of the school year.
“It’s a career move,” she said.
The Gazelles were the defending Division 4 state champions. With five state doubles champs returning, Sacred Heart had the nucleus of repeating for its sixth state trophy in eight years.
“We had the personnel to win again,” Hehs said.
Mulling the situation through March and April, by a May 1 deadline to meet state tournament rules, she installed a new lineup, splitting in half doubles teams, pairing a doubles champ with a new partner, someone new to them or who had never played doubles.
The idea was that the experienced player would mentor her less or inexperienced partner. “You’re going to have to live with it,” she told the squad. Translation: “Trust me.”
Junior Annie Keating was paired with her cousin, sophomore Reagan Beatty, as the No. 1 doubles team. “It was amazing we got to play together,” Reagan said.
They went on to beat a pair of seniors from North Muskegon, 6-1, 6-1. Senior Nolwenn Crosnier found herself matched up with freshman Marisa Nafso as the No. 2 doubles team.
“She calmed me down a lot,” Marisa said later. “We spent every single day together trying to prepare for states.”
They bested a pair from Traverse City St. Francis, 6-2, 6-1.
The mold was set. No. 3 doubles, senior Serena Seneker and junior Kate Myers, defeated their opponents from Portland, 6-3, 6-1.
The No. 4 doubles of senior Catherine Blumberg and junior Hannah Kakos set aside Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 6-1, 6-4.
Sacred Heart had three singles reach the semifinals: senior Elizabeth Etterbeek, senior Sofia Eddy and sophomore Alexis Harman.
For the second year in a row, Sacred Heart had swept the title-clinching four doubles matches, amassing 31 points to 23 for runner-up Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
Was this championship special because it was Hehs' last at Sacred Heart?
“No, not really,” Hehs said. “But maybe the first one, in 2012. That was a special moment.”
As for her future, Hehs said she’s looking at some opportunities and hoping she will be able to continue coaching, and having players trust her.
Other CHSL matches
Here’s how other CHSL teams did in the state tennis tournament:
In Division 1: Farmington Hills Mercy finished in 14th place with five points. Both Maddie Sullivan and Alivia Callahan advanced to the quarterfinals in their singles matches.
In Division 2: Bloomfield Hills Marian had 26 points for third place.
Gaby Gryzenia, Emma Albertie, and Kathryn Torok made it to the semifinal in singles. Mia Schwartz and Marlo Hudson, Ragad Almsaddi and Gigi Kalabat, Sara Kuredijian and Elizabeth Meathe lost in doubles final matches. The doubles team of Ariana Kotsakis and Kate Chinonis were eliminated in the semifinals.
In Division 3: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood was runner-up with 26 points to Detroit Country Day’s 33. No. 4 singles Charlotte Brown won her match 6-0, 6-0. Nina Govila was a runner-up in singles. The doubles team of Rosie Feinbloom and Simrin Nagaraju were finalists.
In Division 4: Clarkston Everest was fifth with 16 points. Second-seeded freshman Moorea McNally upset top-seeded Melanie Zampardo, a Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett junior, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
“We played during the regular season, and she beat me both times,” McNally said.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic was eighth with 12 points. Ann Gladstone was a singles finalist, and Grace Murray reached the semifinals.
At 13, University Liggett scored six points. Melanie Zampardo was a singles finalist.