Oakland tennis out in first round of league tourney, five seniors done


Golden Grizzlies Karine Celis and Maxime Colen embrace in front of a victorious Youngstown State team. Oakland lost 4-1.

Sam Schlenner

Five Oakland tennis journeys ended when No. 6-seed Oakland lost 4-1 to No. 3 Youngstown State in the first round of the Horizon League Championship on Friday at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center. This was the Golden Grizzlies’ second time in a row getting to the league tournament.

“I think the breakdown was the doubles point today,” senior Tamara Blum said. “Normally we’re extremely good in doubles, and today we couldn’t handle the other team.”

At Detroit on April 23, the match that got them to Horizon Leagues, that didn’t matter. Against Youngstown, it did. Blum said they’re good.

“If we don’t get a doubles point,” she said after the match, “it’s going to be extremely hard to get four single matches.”

Blum and Elizabeth Guy took the lone Oakland victory in doubles, winning 6-3 on court No.1. The two other pairs lost.

Blum took the lone Oakland point in singles, winning 6-2 and 6-4 in No. 1. The matches of Karine Celis and Guy went unfinished.

After the loss, the players – all international students but one – filed into the lobby of the complex and spoke with the family members who had ventured out to Ann Arbor to watch the competition.

Karine Celis, Tamara Blum, Juliana Guevara, Maxime Colen and Elizabeth Guy graduate Saturday.

Tamara Blum

“I’m so happy that I met all the people here,” said Blum, who was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team. “I love them. It’s my second family here. Of course I’m extremely sad it’s the last [match]. My biggest wish was that we actually do something bigger in championships.”

Like win, she said.

“Didn’t make it, but still, it’s an amazing team.”

Grad school in Germany is her destination now, back home after a vacation to California and Las Vegas with her family who flew in to see her play.

“No regrets that I came to America,” she said.

Juliana Guevara

Guevara got dealt a switcheroo before the match. Her previous opponent, whom she beat on April 3, was exchanged for another, who does not play in Guevara’s preferred style.

“I fought the entire match,” Guevara said. “But I guess it wasn’t our day.”

She lost in two sets, 6-4 and 6-1 on No. 6.

She said her time with Oakland was great.

“We are really proud of ourselves to get to championships,” Guevara said. “It was a tough road. We beat some of the best teams. Overall it was a good season.”

After college, she’ll stay in the U.S. and work for 2-3 years and then wants to get her MBA in Europe.

Guevara was supposed to graduate Saturday morning, when the semifinals would have been, but the tournament changed things. Even though they’re out of contention, the five seniors are still graduating Saturday afternoon. Together.

“We’re going to keep it like that,” Guevara said.

Karine Celis

Celis played the same opponent as April 3.

“It was even tighter than last time,” Celis said. “Last time I was playing the clincher.”

She went 7-6 and 2-1 on No. 3. Her play was interrupted.

“I was just starting the second set when I got the news that we lost,” Celis said.

And it stopped there.

“It was good,” she said. “I felt pretty confident about it. I thought, we just need a little bit more time. Maybe we could have turned it around, especially after losing the doubles.”

She said it’s difficult, but she’ll recover.

“Overall, that was a lot of fight,” Celis said. “And that’s just everything I can ask from my team. That you go out there and you fight. And if you do, I don’t care if you win or if you lose.”

She is glad she came to this country. She said it was the chance of a lifetime, one that not everyone gets with full scholarship.

Celis has a full-time job in sales lined up. She wants to go to grad school at U of M.

Heather Redshaw

The head coach of Oakland tennis said singles play looked good at the start, that there were some good games.

“Then the momentum switched …” she said.

The Golden Grizzlies lost all of the first sets but one. And then:

“They kind of took it to us in the second sets,” Redshaw said.

She said her team worked hard.

“I think tears come because they care,” Redshaw said. “I have five seniors on this team, so that’s it for them.”

She said that Oakland tennis is getting better.

“This is another stepping stone,” Redshaw said. “We’re excited about our future.”