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SMC TENNIS:Belles record falls to 4-9 with loss to Calvin

Patrick McCabe | Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Calvin beat Saint Mary’s, 8-1, Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Mich., dropping the Belles to 4-9 (1-4) and consigning them to the lower half of the league standings. The loss increases the difficulty and rigor of the Belles’ conference tournament draw, costing them the conference’s fourth seed and the accompanying first-round round bye.

The Belles now must play the maximum number of matches in the tournament and face rested opponents in later rounds.

Despite these setbacks, the Belles are focused on intangible, non-statistical gains and the development of their young core.

“It was a long day,” co-captain Kristen Palombo said. “But everyone felt better about the way they played today [than previous matches]. We finally played a match in good conditions. There was hardly any wind; the weather was perfect. It was a good experience for our team and hopefully gave us some confidence.”

Calvin’s thorough, crisp play led to some lopsided wins, testifying to its deep veteran lineup’s prowess and magnifying the Belles’ raw play.

“They were really consistent,” Palombo said. “They didn’t give us anything and fought every point. A lot of players on our team still think we’re a solid team, but they’re still learning. We’re still making mistakes and committing too many unforced errors.

“It’s frustrating to play a good point and strike a great winner, but then we’ll dump a groundstroke into the net or double-fault on the next point. We need to back-up good points.”

Nonetheless, the Belles managed to scrap with the Knights in a pair of matches. Palombo won her No. 1 singles match 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) and the No. 3 doubles lost in three sets.

“It was a really good experience for them,” Palombo said. “Of course, they wanted to pull it out. But they had never been in a situation like that before, so now they know for the future what it takes to win it next time.”

The Belles intend to rebound quickly from the loss.

“We play Alma and Bethel next week and hope to beat them,” Palombo said. “We want to enter the tournament confidently.”