Melendez Sisters Make “Sweet 16” at Michigan Women’s Amateur

SOUTHFIELD – A sister act, Amaya and Mia Melendez of Ann Arbor, won first-round matches and advanced to the celebrated “Sweet 16” Wednesday in the 108th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland at Plum Hollow Country Club.

  Amaya, 21 (pictured above) and an Eastern Michigan University student, beat Mackenzie Meekhof of Auburn Hills 5 and 4, and Mia, 17 and an Ann Arbor Greenhills High School golfer, also won 5 and 4 in her match with Grace Wang of Rochester Hills and the University of Michigan golf team.

  The sisters are each in the “Sweet 16” for the first time and attended the celebration dinner at Plum Hollow Wednesday evening. They will play round of 16 matches Thursday morning and with wins move on to the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The semifinals, where the sisters could potentially meet, are on Friday morning, with the championship match scheduled for Friday afternoon.

  “It means so much to me,” Amaya said of making the “Sweet 16,” and later added “it’s awesome” regarding her younger sister making it as well.

  “I’ve been playing this tournament for years and I’ve always wanted to make it – like just dreaming of going to the dinner,” she said. “I’m so happy that I made it this far. We both get to go to the dinner and it’s great that we get to do it together for the first time.”

  While the Melendez sisters were advancing, the co-medalists and top two seeds from the stroke play portion of the championship won their first-round matches.

  Elayna Bowser of Dearborn, the 2019 Women’s Amateur champion, turned back Zoe Dull of Spring Lake 5 and 4, and Maya Hunter of St. Joseph, a recent Northern Michigan University graduate, topped Brook Morris of Canton 2-up.

   Bowser will play Mia Melendez next, and Hunter will meet reigning GAM Women’s champion Bridget Boczar of Canton and Oakland University, who topped Kate Brody of Grand Blanc and the University of Wisconsin 5 and 3.

  Defending champion Katie Chipman of Grand Rapids, an assistant golf coach at Grand Valley State University, won her first-round battle with Sophie Stevens of Highland and the University of Florida 2 and 1.

  Olivia Hemmila of Troy and Oakland University, the runner-up to Chipman a year ago, fell in her first-round match. Olivia Stoll of Haslett and Grand Valley State won the battle of girls named Olivia 3 and 2.

  And Anci Dy of Traverse City and the University of Indianapolis, the 2022 Women’s Amateur champion, moved on to the round of 16 with a 2-up win over Grace Boczar of Canton and Oakland University.

  Amaya Melendez said she was hitting fairways and getting up-and-down for par when she missed greens and plans to hit fairways and greens in the match ahead.

  “I want to put myself in good positions to get low scores,” she said. “I had never played this course before this week. It’s a very tough course but I really like it. I like the layout and the greens are fast but it’s a good challenge.”

  She said she has been hitting her driver especially well and had three chip-ins in the first round of stroke play.

  “I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and if I continue to do that tomorrow things will go well,” she said.

  Mia Melendez, who was tied for the lead after the first round of stroke play Monday, said she started strong with consecutive birdies in her match with Meekhof.

  “I knew from there I was going to be able to play steady for the rest of the day and focus on playing smart,” she said.

  The Greenhills senior, who is undecided on what college she will attend, said she chipped in on hole 14 for a birdie 3 to go 5-up and closed out the match.

   “I went into this round thinking it is no different than any other tournament or practice round,” she said. “My goal was to keep myself focused, composed, and not put any pressure on myself. I really work on and concentrate on my mental game.”



Elayna Bowser, 27, Dearborn, Working as a realtor

Mia Melendez, 17, Ann Arbor, Golfer at Ann Arbor Greenhills High School

Olivia Stoll, 20, Haslett, Golfer at Grand Valley State University

Elise Fennell, 18, Caledonia, Incoming freshman Golfer at Illinois State University

Lillian O’Grady, 16, Grand Rapids, Golfer at Grand Rapids Christian High School

Katie Chipman, 26, Grand Rapids, Assistant Golf Coach at Grand Valley State University

Amaya Melendez, 21, Ann Arbor, Student at Eastern Michigan University

Rachel Niskanen, 18, Negaunee, Incoming freshman at Central Michigan University


Maya Hunter, 21, St. Joseph, 21, Golfer at Northern Michigan University

Bridget Boczar, 20, Canton, Golfer at Oakland University

Lily Bargamian, 19, Grosse Ile, Golfer at Oakland University

Macie Elzinga, 18, Byron Center, Incoming freshman at Bowling Green State University

Grace Slocum, 17, Traverse City, Golfer at St Francis High School

Shannon Kennedy, 21, Beverly Hills, Golfer at Michigan State University

Anci Dy, 21, Traverse City, Golfer at University of Indianapolis

Megha Vallabhaneni, 19, Northville, Golfer at Western Michigan University


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