Tennis

Michigan State-bound tennis star takes 3rd place at nation’s top junior tournament

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Written by highergroundintl

KALAMAZOO, MI – In front of friends, family and a raucous group of Spartan supporters, future Michigan State tennis player Ozan Baris capped a memorable run Sunday in the USTA Boys Nationals at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium.

The Okemos resident, who was born in Kalamazoo, took a third place in the 18-and-under singles bracket of the nation’s top junior tennis tournament, falling in Sunday’s semifinals to runner-up Ethan Quinn, 3-6, 4-6.

Baris was scheduled to play top-seeded Martin Damm in Monday’s third/fourth-place matchup, but the Florida native withdrew from the tournament after losing a tough semifinal contest to eventual champ Learner Tien.

Instead, Baris spent his Monday relaxing on the Stowe Stadium bleachers, watching the championship match between Tien and Quinn and reflecting on a fourth and final appearance at his hometown tournament.

RELATED: 16-year-old tennis phenom claims US Open berth with win at 2022 USTA Boys Nationals

“It was definitely a great tournament,” he said. “It’s just special playing here. This is kind of like my home tournament, and I look forward to playing it every year. Getting third place is no small feat. Obviously, I wish I could’ve been holding that first-place trophy or at least competing in the finals, but still a good run, nonetheless.”

After spending the first three years of his life in Kalamazoo, Baris moved to the Ann Arbor area, then to Okemos at age 6, where he developed into one of the nation’s top junior tennis players.

He reached the consolation finals in the 16 singles bracket in 2016 and repeated that feat at 18 singles in 2021, which helped him earn an 11 seed at this year’s tournament.

Baris won his first five singles matches this year, including a quarterfinal upset over fourth-seeded Kyle Kang, of Fullerton, Calif., before seeing his championship hopes come to an end in straight sets against Quinn, much to the chagrin of his spirited supporters , who frequently used the “Go Green-Go White” chant throughout the contest.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It really just motivated me, and moments like that, you don’t really forget them, and it makes you want to keep working harder and getting better. I feel like there were so many people out there looking out for me and supporting me, and it was a special feeling.”

Baris wraps up his junior tennis career at the Junior US Open, which begins Sept. 4 at Flushing Meadows in New York, then dives into his collegiate career in Michigan State, marking the first time he’ll be part of a team since his freshman year at Okemos, when he cruised to a No. 1 singles state title and led the Wolves to the Division 2 championship.

“It’s going to be a completely different vibe and different way of playing tennis on a team,” he said of his MSU future. “It can get a little more rowdy, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I haven’t played in an environment like that, so it’s going to be awesome.”

RELATED: See the Michigan tennis stars competing in the 2022 USTA Boys Nationals

Also putting on a show in front of his home-state fans throughout the week was Milford native Aidan Kim, who won the 18 singles consolation bracket at the tournament’s No. 16 seed.

A Round of 16 loss to fifth-seeded Michael Zheng took the 17-year-old Michigander out of the main draw, but he rallied to win his next two matches, then avenged the loss to Zheng with a 6-3, 6-1 victory in the consolation finals.

Follow along to see how all the Michigan natives fared at the nation’s premier junior tennis tournament.

Clayton Anderson

Hometown: Rochester Hills

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 3-2

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

Simon Caldwell

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 2-2

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

Ozan Baris

Hometown: Okemos

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 6-1

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

Drew Hackney

Hometown: Norton Shores

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 0-2

Doubles tournament record: 0-1

Nicholas Herdoiza

Hometown: West Bloomfield

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 1-2

Doubles tournament record: 0-1

Aidan Kim

Hometown: Milford

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 6-1

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

Sachiv Kumar

Hometown: Nov

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 4-2

Doubles tournament record: 1-1

Ethan Portnoy

Hometown: Okemos

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 1-2

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

Chakor Sankaran Rajendra

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 2-2

Doubles tournament record: 0-1

Rishi Verma

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 0-2

Doubles tournament record: 0-1

Andrew Vincler

Hometown: Rochester

Division: 16U

Singles tournament record: 0-2

Doubles tournament record: 0-1

Simon Volkema

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 0-2

Doubles tournament record: 1-1

Colson Wells

Hometown: Okemos

Division: 18U

Singles tournament record: 1-2

Doubles tournament record: 2-1

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