Jul. 8—TRAVERSE CITY — Sports has been a way for students to make lifelong friendships, and that’s what happened to Isabella Fochtman and Natalie Bourdo.
Traverse City Central’s one-doubles flight players — the senior Fochtman and junior Natalie Bourdo — have been best friends since they were 8 years old and met through tennis camp. Their friendship has continued to grow, and it translated on the tennis courts this season.
“They were the heart and soul of our program, everything that we look for in a player,” Central head coach Lisa Seymour said. “They both worked hard this offseason to achieve No. 1 doubles, and the chemistry on the court was off the charts.”
Fotchman and Bourdo took control of the one-doubles flight this season and had a lot of success. They captured Big North Conference and regional titles and then made a little run in the state tournament before losing to Troy in the quarterfinals in two sets.
Their hard work this year didn’t go unnoticed as they collected honors as the 2023 Record-Eagle Girls Tennis Players of the Year.
“We worked hard in the offseason and did a lot of private lessons to build the doubles partnership because it was our first year playing together,” Fochtman said. “We had to work hard in the offseason to be able to jump right into the season already comfortable with each other.”
Seymour, who wrapped up her second season as coach, said she saw the potential in the girls during tryouts.
“The way they worked together in the offseason, it showed during the season,” Seymour said.
The chemistry on the court didn’t take long to develop once they stepped on the court. They both grew up attending the same tennis camp that Seymour puts on every summer, which is where their friendship formed.
This season was Bourdo’s first crack at the one-doubles flight after playing at two-doubles her first two seasons at Central. But having her best friend by her side helped.
“I had an awesome partner to keep me calm through the stressful moments,” Bourdo said, laughing. “We did a solid job on talking between points and talking a lot more about strategy.”
In the regional finals, the chemistry helped drive them to a victory after being down multiple times throughout the match. Even in the heat of the moment, their bond helped them get the challenging wins.
“It was a very symbiotic relationship. They fed off each other,” Seymour said. “They both have played multiple sports growing up, so they had a lot of experience handling pressure situations. They never resorted to negative energy. It was always positive energy.”
Their friendship is just like any other friendship. They know each other’s favorite food orders. They can finish each other’s sentences, and they even match at times.
“We match in almost everything,” Fotchman and Bourdo said. “We have matching grips, tennis rackets, outfits and hairstyles.”
The Division 1 All-Staters were together during the interview because they wanted to share the moment. Their loud laughter and joy were evident when Bourdo was asked to share something that no one knew about Fotchman.
“My freshmen year, Isabella always carried around toothpaste and a toothbrush in her bag at all times,” Bourdo said, laughing. “She always had very nice teeth.”
Fotchman said, while trying to contain her laugh, that Bourdo wasn’t wrong and proceeded to say what Fotchman’s favorite food order at Jimmy Johns is. It shows their friendship is strong, even with Fotchman graduating.
Fotchman still plans on playing club tennis while attending Michigan State University in the fall to study human biology with a dental track. Bourdo hopes to get another crack at a state title.
Fotchman and Bourdo noted their postseason run doesn’t happen without the support from each other, coaches, parents, and friends.
2023 RECORD-EAGLE GIRLS TENNIS DREAM TEAM
Isabella Fochtman (Sr.)/Natalie Bourdo (Jr.) — Traverse City Central (Players of the Year)
The best-friend duo led the way for the Trojans at one-doubles. The Division 1 All-Staters had a 23-6 overall record with wins in the Big North Conference championship, Up North Invite and Division 1 regional championship. They made a run in the D1 state tournament before losing to Troy in the quarterfinals. Fochtman and Bourdo defeated every team in the Big North along with wins against Elk Rapids, Grand Blanc and Hudsonville in the state tournament that helped keep TC Centrals’ 41 consecutive appearances in the state tournament alive.
Aili Brockmiller (Sr.)/Wren Walker (So.) — Traverse City Central
Brockmiller and Walker had an overall record of 26-5 as the Trojans’ No.2 doubles. The duo finished the season with a winning percentage of 83.9% with wins in the Big North championship and Up North Invite championship. They made a run in the D1 state quarterfinals before losing to Troy in straight sets.
Audrey Parker (Jr.)/Carly Galsterer (Jr.) — Traverse City Central
The Trojans’ No.3 doubles finished the season with an overall record of 14-3, with wins in the conference championship, regional title match, and a win against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek at the Division 1 state tournament before falling short to top-seeded Ann Arbor Pioneer in straight sets.
Mary-Kate Ansley — Traverse City St. Francis, Fr.
The Glads’ All-State honorable in Division 4 for two-singles had a heck of a freshman season with a 23-2 overall record. She captured a regional and conference title but fell short in the D4 state tournament to Ann Arbor Father Gabriel in the semifinals.
Audrey Lee — Traverse City St. Francis, Sr.
The top-seeded four-singles player in Division 4 earned a spot on the All-State First-Team list after posting a 24-1 record and breezing through the Lake Michigan Conference tournament, dominating regionals and making it to the state finals.
Mary Chittle — Traverse City St. Francis, Sr.
At one-singles for the Glads, Chittle finished the season with an 11-11 record and qualified for states. Chittle was also the regional and Lake Michigan runner-up, and she received a Division 4 First-Team All-State recognition.
Sara Elliot — Traverse City West, Sr.
Elliot left her mark in the Big North Conference after going 5-0 as the Titans’ three-singles. Elliot captured a Big North title in her flight and is the only non-TC Central player to be seeded No.1 and win her flight in the BNC. Elliot finished the season 12-15 before earning a regional point for the Titans.
Ayva Johnstone — Elk Rapids, Jr.
The Elks All-State one-singles player finished the season 20-4 with wins against every girl in northern Michigan, including players from TC Central. Johnstone made her way back to the state tournament for the second year in a row before losing in the state quarterfinals to North Pointe in three sets.
Ryleigh Yocom (Sr.)/Haleigh Yocom (So.) — Elk Rapids
The Yocom sisters did their thing at Elk Rapids this year in the two-doubles flight after posting a 13-4 overall record. They finished the season undefeated against northern Michigan opponents before losing in the state quarterfinals.
Morgan Bergquist — Elk Rapids, Jr.
Bergquist secured her place in the Dream Team by achieving a 19-7 record as the Elks’ three-singles player. During the Division 4 state tournament, she won against Saginaw Nouvel but ultimately lost to Lumen Christi in the next round. Bergquist and her teammates dominated Traverse City St. Francis in the Lake Michigan Conference championship and played a significant role in Elks’ regional title victory.
Jaylun Hamilton — Cadillac, Sr.
Hamilton finished her senior year as the Vikings’ two-singles player with an overall record of 17-6. She had strong wins, one in particular against Division 1 No. 8-ranked Forest Hill Eastern. She also received a second-team Big North Conference nod.
Quinn Cassidy — Harbor Springs, Sr.
Cassidy led the Rams in two-singles with an overall record of 18-4 with a runner-up in the regional championship and conference title. She also has notable wins against Petoskey twice along with TC West and Ludington. Cassidy also won the first match in the Division 4 state tournament before losing in the following round.
Kathryn Wade (Sr.)/Annie Goldkuhle (So.) — Traverse City Central
The Trojans’ four-doubles team went 21-9 to win the Big North, Up North Invite Championship and a first-round win at the Division 1 state tournament against Stoney Creek.
Abby Pfannenstiel — Traverse City Central, So.
Central’s four-singles player went 17-12 in her first year on the varsity stage. Some of her notable wins include Elk Rapids, Birmingham Seaholm and Forest Hilsl Eastern.
Phoebe Walker — Traverse City Central, Sr.
The 2022 Record-Eagle Girls Tennis Player of the Year finished the season 18-10 with an undefeated record in the Big North.
Lilly Cerny (Jr.)/Wave Spence (Sr.) — Traverse City West
The senior-junior combo finished the season 11-10 as the Titans’ one-doubles. The duo finished third in the BNC.
Lily Lurvey (Jr.)/Caroline Knox (So.) — Traverse City St. Francis
The Glads’ one-doubles flight went 19-5 to win the Lake Michigan Conference and regional championship, advancing to the D3 state quarterfinals. St. Francis’ duo earned a nod for Division 4 All-State honorable mention.
Elly March (Jr.)/Alyssa Corpus (Sr.) — Traverse City St. Francis
The three-doubles flight for the Glads posted a 14-9 after winning the Lake Michigan Conference. They also finished runner-up in regionals.
Jaida Sculte (Jr.)/Brynne Schulte (Jr.) — Elk Rapids
The Elk Rapids’ sister duo finished the season 14-6 as the three-doubles team for the Elks. The sisters came away with a regional title and made a little run in the Division 4 state tournament before losing in the quarterfinals to NorthPointe in two sets.
Charlotte Westbrook (Sr.)/Stella Vranes (Sr.) — Harbor Springs
Harbor Springs’ one-doubles flight finished the season 13-7 with a runner-up performance in regional and conference tournaments.
Evelyn Rosier — Charlevoix, Sr.
The Rayders’ one-singles player posted a 9-3 record with losses against TC St. Francis and Elk Rapids’ Ayva Johnstone. All of her wins took only two sets.
Katya Peck — Petoskey, Sr.
Petoskey’s one-singles player capped off her senior year with a 13-5 overall record after making her way to the Division 3 Regional semifinals. One of Peck’s notable wins was against St. Francis’ Mary Chittle.
Ava Pomaranski, TC St. Francis, Jr.; Lizzie Frederick, (So.)/Abby Corpus (Fr.), TC St. Francis; Maggie Puetz (Jr.)/ Katrina Lee (So.), TC St. Francis; Alexis Smith, TC Central, Jr.; Ellery Schaefer, Cadillac, Sr.; Katie Graham (Sr.)/Donna Huynh (Sr.), Cadillac; Madalie Dickerson, Cadillac, Sr.; Charlie Todd, Petoskey, Jr.; Adelyn Wang, Petoskey, Sr.