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  • The Times Herald

    Senior class 'motivated' to lead Port Huron Northern girls tennis at MHSAA state finals

    By Brenden Welper, Port Huron Times Herald,

    25 days ago

    PORT HURON — As the smallest school in Division 1 for MHSAA girls tennis, Port Huron Northern had the option to move down to Division 2.

    But the Huskies stayed put, believing they could hang with the best on the big stage.

    They were right.

    Northern is gearing up for its fourth straight trip to the Division 1 state finals, which begin May 31 at Greater Midland Tennis Center in Midland.

    The Huskies will also have seven athletes compete individually — Lily VanHowe (No. 1 singles), Addison Lyons (No. 2 singles), Amara Makim (No. 3 singles), Phoebe Muir (No. 1 doubles), Kate VanHowe (No. 1 doubles), Ella Beck (No. 2 doubles) and Grace Goldman (No. 2 doubles).

    "What's impressed me the most is how the leadership on this team has been able to step up and get all the girls to compete at the highest level," Northern coach Tiffany Odlum said. "This year, we have five seniors and they've done a great job at keeping the girls enthusiastic and pumped up."

    Added Odlum: "We have a pretty tough schedule, so it's hard to keep everybody motivated all the time. But they've all been such troopers."

    The current senior class consists of Beck, Lyons, Makim, Muir and Lily VanHowe.

    "The team has really bonded a lot over the past couple of years," Beck said. "We're friends on the court and off the court … it's just really a positive environment. Everyone is so supportive and I think that has significantly helped us."

    "We've been putting in a lot of work and have been playing together our entire lives," Makim said. "And so, building off of each other, it's helped me improve (throughout my career)."

    "I love to watch us do well as a team," Lyons said. "That's my favorite thing — just to watch our team, as a whole, have success, support each other and be there for each other. It's what motivates me to work harder and be a part of that success."

    In addition to being Port Huron natives, all five girls trace their tennis roots to the city's longtime training ground.

    "It's very unique to have such a strong club, the Port Huron Tennis House, in a small town," Muir said. "We've all been playing here since we were toddlers."

    "I know we've all heard people say, 'One day, you'll have a (state finalist) banner up in the Tennis House. One day, you guys will go to states,' " Beck said. And that's kind of motivating. It's cool to see how that (experience) has taken us this far. It's like a full-circle moment."

    Soon, that circle will close in Midland.

    "It'll be our last time playing together," Lily VanHowe said. "So we're especially motivated now."

    Northern is also determined to honor the place it calls home, which extends well beyond the high school.

    "Since we've been little, it's been such a supportive and amazing community," Muir said of Port Huron. "Everyone has watched up grow up and have success, especially in high school. So, when we get to states, we return the favor, pay it forward and represent our community. Because a lot of people don't know how strong our community is with tennis."

    "I'm just so excited for the girls to get to finish the season at the highest level and see what this team can do," Odlum said. "We're not done yet."

    Contact Brenden Welper at . Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper .

    This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Senior class 'motivated' to lead Port Huron Northern girls tennis at MHSAA state finals

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