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Belles beat Albion, stay undefeated in MIAA

Ryan Duffy | Thursday, April 8, 2004

The Saint Mary’s tennis team continued to disprove doubters with a 5-4 victory over Albion Wednesday, improving its record to 13-4 overall and 4-0 in MIAA conference play. The team’s recent performances have been worthy of an appearance at this weekend’s Midwest Invitational Tournament.”Our match Wednesday against Albion was very challenging and one that we were very eager to win,” Kris Spriggle said. Spriggle was victorious in her No. 4 singles match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.”We started off with wins in our No. 1 doubles [Jeannie Knish/Kate Bowler, who won 2-6, 7-5, 6-3] and No. 3 doubles [Kristen Palombo/Grace Gordon, who won 7-6 (8), 6-3] matches,” she said. “So we went into the singles matches knowing we only needed to take three of the six matches to win, and we managed to win the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 singles matches.”Jeannie Knish won her singles match, as did Palombo and Spriggle. Kaitlin Cutler, who held the team’s best record entering the match, lost 7-5, 1-6, 4-6 to drop to 13-3 on the year.The loss was Cutler’s first defeat in a conference match in three and a half years; however, the rest of the team was still able to rally for the victory.”Albion is a very tough opponent, and we lost to them last year 8-1, so we were looking to get some revenge this year,” Spriggle said. “I think we achieved that with our 5-4 win.”We really played together as a team. I think we showed Saint Mary’s, and the conference, that we’re ready to pull out another MIAA conference title. And we’re looking for an invite to the NCAA regionals after wins like these.”This weekend’s Midwest Invitational will have a large impact on the Belles’ chances of making the NCAA tournament.The Midwest Invitational is an annual tournament held in Madison. The top 12 teams in the Midwest are invited to compete. Two years ago, Saint Mary’s placed 6th and went to the NCAA Regionals. This year, however, they were snubbed.”At first, we were not invited. Calvin College got the invite. But they turned down the invite, which let us in,” Spriggle said. “Our match on Wednesday proves we belong there.”Albion was ranked No. 5 [in the Midwest Invitational], and this win shows we belong just as much as they do. We beat a team ranked higher than us, and this way we screw up the rankings and stick it to the committee for not inviting us.”Generally, only one MIAA team is invited, but this year’s field featured three teams, which many attribute to the growing strength of the conference.Saint Mary’s is already undefeated in the conference with a 4-0 record. The Belles look to prove to all that they really do belong this weekend by turning in a strong performance.Players like Spriggle hope to lead the charge.