Area prep players shine in golf and tennis
Essence Biggs of Birmingham Seaholm, Carmella Goree of Grosse Pointe South among top prep golfers and tennis players in the state
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Since the success of pro golfers Calvin Peete and Tiger Woods, and tennis players Yanick Noah, Malwai Washington and Venus and Serena Williams, Black youths have taken to golf and tennis and have accelerated to new heights, especially at the high school level. Local area high school players Essence Biggs of Birmingham Seaholm and Carmella Goree of Grosse Pointe South are among the best in prep golf and tennis in the state of Michigan.
Biggs, a senior, has been one of the top amateur golfers in the state and is now one of the tops among the state’s preps. After finishing in 26th place in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Girl’s State Finals as a freshman (2008), the Seaholm grad climbed to the top among the state’s best. She won the Division 1 State Regional Title three straight years (2009, 2010, 2011) as a sophomore, junior and senior. In the Division 1 State Finals in ‘09, her sophomore year, Biggs finished in second place. In her junior year (2010) she was MHSAA Division 1 champion. In 2011, her senior year, she finished in seventh place. She also won four tournaments and came in second place in four others.
She made MHSAA First Team All-State her sophomore, junior and senior year and First Team All-Oakland County her sophomore, junior and senior years. Her play has been so impressive, Seaholm High will now have an Essence Biggs Commitment Award given to the top varsity player at the school.
“The last four years have been great,” Biggs said. “I won a state championship, a bunch of tournaments and have been recognized as one of the best players in the state.
“My family support has been tremendous, allowing me to travel all over the country to compete against and meet some of the best players in the country … Now it’s time to take my game to the next level to compete against the best college has to offer. It gets no better than that.”
And Biggs will get that chance as she earned a full golf scholarship to Seminole State College in Florida this fall.
While one prep career winds down in golf at Seaholm, another is just getting started at Grosse Ponte South High in tennis. Just 14 and going into the 10th grade at 15, Carmela Goree is already getting noticed. With several years of experience playing amateur tennis in the United States Tennis Association at the age of 9, Goree made the girls varsity squad as the number one singles player for South High as a freshman. She’s laying down tracks and establishing herself. In just her first year, Goree won the 2012 MHSAA Division 1 regional this past spring. At the MHSAA Division 1 State Finals, she won her first two round matches before losing in the quarterfinals to the number one player in the state at number one singles. Her performance, though, was good enough to help her team win the Division 1 Team State Championship.
To get ready for the season, Goree ran cross country to build her conditioning and endurance. To keep her game sharp for next spring, she’ll play in several USTA summer tournaments as well as the American Tennis Association, a Black pro-amateur tennis organization.
Goree started playing tennis at the age of 4. She continued to play the game freely until age 9 when she started playing in USTA Tournaments. Her mother credits her coaches Darryl Hale, Dennis Royal and Art Grudy for getting her this far. They will coach her this summer during the USTA and ATA summer tournaments.