Owen Kelley is the No. 1 singles player for the Huron tennis team and being No. 1 is something he would like to see his team pull off at this weekend’s tennis state finals. Huron comes into the state meet as the third-ranked team in the state so winning it all is certainly within a volley for the River Rats.
Huron won six of eight flights at Thursday’s Division 1 tennis regional at Woodhaven High School to qualify for the state finals on Friday and Saturday at the Greater Midland Tennis Center.
One of those six winners was Kelley, who defeated Pioneer’s Oliver Fuchs 6-0, 6-1 in the finals after winning his semifinal match 6-0, 6-0.
The junior improved to 21-5 on the season at Regionals and has high expectations for his trip to the state finals – but he has even higher expectations for the River Rats. “Personally, I’m hoping to at least get to the semifinals at states,” he said. “But as a team I think we have the ability to win the whole thing.”
Kelley received a first-round bye as the fifth seed at the state finals. He will play the winner of the Kai Roberts (Catholic Central)-Stuart Johnston (Grand Blanc) match in the second round.
The River Rats head to Midland on the top of their game – exactly where you want to be at this point of the season.
“Our team has been doing really well,” Kelly said. “This year we’ve only lost in two of the events we played in and we are ranked number three in the state right now.”
The highlights have been many.
“My best moment was probably winning regionals this year,” said Kelley, the son of Nancy and John Kelley. “Not only personally did I win, but we also won regionals as a team which was really exciting.”
Kelley, 16, has had an impressive high school career leading up to this weekend. He played three singles as a freshman and took a 24-1 record into the state finals where he lost in the finals. He moved up to one singles last year as a sophomore where he went 21-5 and reached the quarterfinals.
“I’m going to be the fifth seed going into states this year and I’m hoping to finish the year with a good run at states,” he says.
Kelley plays tennis at Liberty Athletic Club and Chippewa. He also plays at other places but Liberty and Chippewa are the two main ones.
He first picked up a racket when he was about 8 years old and started taking it more seriously when he was about 10. “From there I just kept playing more and more,” he said. “I really like the competitiveness of it. Tennis is very exciting to play and since you don’t have any teammates the outcome of the match is completely on you and you don’t have to rely on anyone else.”
Kelley, who also serves up aces in the classroom with a 3.8 GPA, is considering the Naval Academy and Michigan State for his next chapter after high school. He is interested in either engineering or business.
And as for tennis?
“I’m not really sure what I want to do with tennis after high school but I definitely want to do something,” he said. “Playing in college would be fun but it takes up a lot of time so I might not do that. I also help out rec & ed and coach with them a little so I’d like to continue that.”