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SMC TENNIS: Belles set to challenge MIAA-leading Hope

Kate Seryak | Thursday, April 7, 2005

On Thursday, the Belles will take on the Flying Dutch of Hope College in one of their most important conference matches.Hope recently reached the .500 mark after a 9-0 shutout win over Olivet College on Tuesday and is currently tied with Albion College atop the MIAA conference at 3-0.”Inside of our conference, this will be our first big challenge,” Belles captain Miranda Mikulyuk said. “This match, how we play in it, will be a good indicator for the rest of the season.”It will also be a good challenge for our doubles [pairs],” Mikulyuk said. “Tuesday’s match wasn’t a good challenge for the doubles, but Hope is almost stronger in doubles than they are in singles so this will be a good challenge.”Captain Kristen Palombo echoed Mikulyuk’s thoughts.”The doubles will be key to setting up the match tomorrow,” Palombo said. “If we can go into the singles having won two out of the three doubles, I think we have a chance at winning the whole match. That would take the pressure off of the singles players – they would only have to win three out of the six singles matches.”This will be only the Belles’ second conference match. Saint Mary’s played Tri-State University on Tuesday and won with a 9-0 sweep, beginning their conference run at 1-0.Despite a strong start to the season, however, the Belles were not invited to the Midwestern Tournament in Wisconsin this year.”I think its kind of hard to be judged so early in the season,” Mikulyuk said. “We’ve only played one conference match, whereas Hope and Albion have played three. I don’t know what the criteria are to get invited to that match. I’m not sure its clear to anyone.”The Belles, however, aren’t fazed. Instead, they are looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”We’ve beaten Hope in the past few years, but they have always been close matches,” Palombo said. “They always come ready to play, and it will be a tough match. Hope had a really good win against Calvin last week, so [Hope is] definitely strong this year.”As of yet, it has not been determined where the match will be held. If it rains before 11 a.m., the match will be held in Hope’s indoor facilities. If not, the match will be played at St. Mary’s as originally scheduled.”Tennis is mostly mental, and right now we don’t even know where we are playing this match,” Palombo said. “It will be tough if we have to sit in a van for two hours because your legs get cramped and it’s hard to stay focused. “Also, if we don’t play at home, we won’t have as many fans, and Hope has the loudest and most obnoxious fans. I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” Palombo said.