The Frankel Jewish Academy girls tennis team celebrates its Catholic League Intersectional II division championship last week after beating Riverview Gabriel Richard at Drake Sports Park in West Bloomfield.
The Frankel Jewish Academy girls tennis team celebrates its Catholic League Intersectional II division championship last week after beating Riverview Gabriel Richard at Drake Sports Park in West Bloomfield. (FJA)

The Frankel Jewish Academy girls tennis team won their first Catholic League division championship this season in style.

What a difference a year makes isn’t always a trite cliche.

It truly describes this season for the Frankel Jewish Academy girls tennis team.

After not playing last season because spring sports were shut down by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan High School Athletic Association in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jaguars won their first Catholic League division championship this season.

And they did it in style.

They won all three of their Intersectional II matches 8-0, beating Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Allen Park Cabrini and Riverview Gabriel Richard.

While they were doing that, they surprised Royal Oak Shrine 6-2 in a Catholic League crossover match.

Not bad for a team that hadn’t won a match since 2018 and had just three practices in 2020.

“After those three practices last year, I thought we’d have a better season than in 2019. Then the season was canceled,” said fourth-year FJA coach Leroy Zagata.

“I knew we’d have a strong team this year. I was hoping for a good season. I was floored when we beat Shrine (April 28). They’re usually a solid team.”

Nobody exemplifies the Jaguars’ climb more than the doubles team of seniors Mackenzie Morton and Adena Wolf.

They won a couple matches at No. 4 doubles as freshmen and didn’t win any matches at No. 1 doubles as sophomores. They won their first four matches this season at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.

“Mackenzie and Adena have never let losing get them down. They’re always happy to play,” Zagata said.

FJA’s singles lineup has freshman Abigail Gelfand, senior Arielle Shlafer, junior Sophie Fieler and sophomore Aliyah Lofman.

Other doubles teams are seniors Sabrina Carson and Lillian Beavers, sophomore Erin Grey and junior Rayna Golnick and seniors Sophia Aaron and Anna Weinbaum.

The Jaguars finished their dual match season last week by facing Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and North Farmington. They’ll play in a Division 4 regional tournament May 21 at AA Gabriel Richard.

They lost 7-1 May 12 to AA Gabriel Richard, suffering their first defeat of the season.

“Long matches and long points. And a bit of a wake-up call for regionals,” Zagata said following the loss.

The future is bright for the FJA girls tennis program. There are 26 girls in the program this season, up from the 14 to 16 the previous three years.