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SMC Tennis: Belles open conference play against Britons

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Saint Mary’s opens their conference play today as they head to Albion to take on the Britons, who are currently ranked first in the MIAA. The Britons (6-0, 1-0 MIAA) started off their conference season with a win on Feb. 13 when they defeated Adrian 9-0. Tuesday’s match will be the first meeting of the two teams this season.

Last season the Belles were unsuccessful against the Brits, losing 8-1 in their only meeting. Sophomore Camille Gebert gave Saint Mary’s their only victory of the day when she defeated Albion’s Holly Huth 6-3, 7-5. The Brits ended last season 15-6, 7-1 overall, and were the MIAA conference co-champions with Kalamazoo. The Belles went 13-13, 5-3 MIAA, finishing in fourth.

“We are expecting a very tough match,” Gebert said. “If we want a chance at winning the conference title, we need to beat Albion. They will likely have a very competitive team, and each match will be crucial for a team victory.”

Last Saturday, the Belles went up against the Division II Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats, losing 6-3 and falling to 4-4. Saturday wasn’t a complete failure for the Belles, however, as it gave them a chance to get back on the courts and compete once more before Albion. Gebert and freshman Jillian Hurley each continued their individual success in the singles division. Gebert won her match 6-2, 6-2, putting her at 4-4, and Hurley went 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, bringing her to 7-1. On the doubles side, the duo of sophomore Lisa Rubino and freshman Betsy Reed were the only victors for the Belles, winning 8-4 and putting them at 3-3 as a pair.

Saint Mary’s biggest threats from Albion will be their No.1 singles player, freshman Shelley Zamler, and their No. 2 singles, sophomore Michelle Mulder. Both Zamler and Mulder are strong top players for the Brits this season, each going 3-2. The real threat is when they join forces to become Albion’s No.1 doubles team, going 4-1 this season. Their next challenge will most likely be Saint Mary’s No. 1 doubles of Gebert-Hurley.

“Winning our doubles will give us an advantage,” Gebert said.  “We need to start off strong in each match, and keep the intensity up throughout. We have a very good chance at beating them, so long as we play to our potential.”

The Belles travel to Albion today to take on the Brits in their conference opener at 3 p.m.

“Our matches are all going to be tight, so we must stay positive,” Gebert said.  “Giving up will not be an option.  I believe we will rise to the occasion.”