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SMC Tennis: Belles to face strong Hope team

Greg Arbogast | Wednesday, March 29, 2006

After a promising start in MIAA play, Saint Mary’s will face a real conference test when it matches up against Hope today at 3 p.m.

The Belles are coming off a weekend in which they went 1-1, improving their record to 6-4 (2-0). They defeated conference member Adrian but lost to non-conference foe Aquinas. Saint Mary’s is looking to win its third conference match, which would already equal its conference win total from last season.

“A win this weekend would really help the team’s confidence,” Belles head coach Dee Stevenson said. “It would reaffirm in their own minds that they are among the best, not just in the conference but out of conference as well.”

A tough Hope team, however, stands in Saint Mary’s path. Hope finished second in the MIAA last season, and they have won three straight matches heading into their clash with Saint Mary’s. While admitting his team will be challenged today, Stevenson is optimistic about his team’s chances.

“They’re definitely one of the better teams in the conference,” Stevenson said. “They are year in and year out, but that’s not to say that we can’t compete with them. Last year’s match [that Saint Mary’s lost 5-4] could have gone either way, and it will probably be a similar match this year.”

The Belles are also hoping that they will finally be able to field their best team when the two teams meet today. Due to either sickness or injury, Saint Mary has not played a match this season with all their best players competing.

Regardless of which players end up able to compete, Stevenson has emphasized the importance of today’s match.

“I’ve been stressing to the girls that if they want to compete in conference, they have to be able to compete with teams like Hope,” he said.