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Belles try to bounce back after home loss

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 28, 2008

Saint Mary’s heads off to Wheaton, Ill., this weekend to take on Olivet Nazarene and Wheaton College in the Wheaton Invitational Tournament.

The Belles (4-6, 0-2 MIAA) lost their home opener Wednesday to conference rival Calvin (7-1, 1-0 MIAA), 6-3.

“Calvin is a very good team, and we knew they were going to be very good coming in,” Belles coach Chuck Rubino said. “But we had a good effort on our part. We had some good matches with our No. 2 in singles, Jillian Hurley, and in the No. 6 spot with Jessica Camp. In doubles, we let some slip away from us.”

In singles, the Belles went 2-4, with No. 2 Hurley and No. 6 Camp, both freshmen, the only two to come out on top for the Belles, winning in three sets each. Hurley defeated Calvin’s Kaitlin Spoelhof 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-4, bringing her singles record to 9-1. Camp went 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), beating Calvin’s Kelsey Bushhouse. Saint Mary’s No.1 Camille Gebert fell 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 Betsy Reed lost 6-2, 7-5; No. 4 Jessica Kosinski was swept 6-4, 6-0; No. 5 Lisa Rubino was defeated 7-5, 6-1.

Saint Mary’s fell in doubles competition on Wednesday as well. The No. 1 pair of sophomore Camille Gebert and freshman Hurley won their fifth match together, bringing them to 5-5 as a pair with their 8-6 win over Calvin’s Melissa Oosterhouse and Rachel Strikwerda. But the winning stopped there. The No. 2 duo of Reed and Rubino fell 8-6 by Calvin’s Kaitlin Spoelhof and Jill Van Veen. The No. 3 team of Franca Peluso and Mary Therese Lee lost 8-0 to Calvin’s Elisabeth Geenen and Rachel DeGroot.

“I do think our doubles are improving,” Rubino said. “Especially at No. 1 and No. 2 we are starting to learn how to play doubles. We’re real close to winning sets and matches in the middle of our singles too.”

With a young team of two sophomores and eight freshmen, Saint Mary’s has had to do some adjusting this season.

“We need to learn to compete on the next level, and that’s an ongoing process,” Rubino said. “Our girls are learning that this is a new level, and it takes some adjustment, and we’re working towards that.”

This weekend, Saint Mary’s will take on Olivet Nazarene Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. and Wheaton College at 3 p.m. Saturday. Olivet Nazarene, ranked No. 18 in the NAIA, is 2-0 for their spring season, after winning the Tri-State Conference Championship in the fall. Wheaton is currently ranked No. 18 in the ITA for Division III schools.

“This is going to be a very strong tournament,” Rubino said. “Very stiff competition that will force us to try to improve. We’ll give our best effort, and hopefully the strong competition will pay off towards the end of the season. Our goals are to win as many flights as we can and improve.”