By Steve Gunn
NORTON SHORES – Alicia Winter has some big news to share the next time she calls home.
Winter, who is attending Fruitport High School this year, became a surprise champion at Saturday’s Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Girls City Tennis Tournament at Mona Shores High School.
She faced the defending champion, Mona Shores standout Sophie Gossett, in the No. 1 singles championship match. Nobody really expected her to win, considering Gossett took top honors in 2015, and beat Winter in straight sets earlier this season.
And Winter’s chances seemed even more dim when she lost the first set of the finals to Gossett.
But the native of Dusseldorf, Germany remained calm, steadied her game and rallied for a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 victory to claim the top flight championship.
She was most impressive in the second set, when she jumped out to leads of 3-1 and 5-3, watched Gossett rally to tie the score at 5-5, then won the last two games and the set.
“She’s a really, really good player, and I just wanted the opportunity to play against a good player,” Winter said about Gossett. “I was just so happy with the way I played and was proud of myself for keeping up with her.
“It was more important to me to play my best tennis (than win). I talked to my host (Jesse Thompson) and he told me to just enjoy it.”
While Winter won the top individual honor in the tournament, North Muskegon claimed the team championship for at least the third year in a row.
The Norse finished with 49 points, followed by Whitehall (44), Fruitport and Mona Shores (36), Reeths-Puffer (25), Muskegon Catholic (12) and Western Michigan Christian (7).
The Norse won on the strength of a clean sweep in doubles, capturing the championship in all four flights.
Winning doubles titles for the Norse were Molly Huisingh and Mary Hoopes (No. 1), Tess Wilson and Lindsay Bliss (No. 2), Madeline Huisingh and Lauren Bliss (No. 3) and Hannah Knight and Hayden Dobb (No. 4).
North Muskegon’s Paige Twining won the No. 2 singles championship. Belles Hardman was the runner-up in No. 3 singles for the Norse.
“They were all seeded first (in their flights), and they played the way they should have played,” said first- year North Muskegon Coach Anne Tyson about her doubles teams. “We have a very powerful, experienced set of players.”
Other flight champions in the tournament were Whitehall’s Brooke Klingel (No. 3 singles) and Fruitport’s Trinity Busscher (No. 4 singles).
Other runners-up were Vanessa Heylmun of Whitehall (No. 2 singles), Taylor Mikkelson of Whitehall (No. 4 singles), Jamie Westrate and Emily Christensen of Whitehall (No. 1 doubles), Rhianna Sheesley and Brooke Sheesley of Whitehall (No. 2 doubles), Sam Ketchum and Brooke Batchelder of Whitehall (No. 3 doubles) and Anna Gomez and Courtney Dunn of Mona Shores (No. 4 doubles).