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SMC Tennis: Belles play first dual match against Wildcats

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, March 14, 2008

Saint Mary’s will head to Marion, Ind., Saturday to take on Indiana Wesleyan in their first dual match of the season.

The Belles (4-3) look to continue the momentum they started over break, but face a tough challenge in the Wildcats (1-1), who have played only two matches this spring but went 13-0 in their fall season.

“Indiana Wesleyan is very good team,” said Belles coach Chuck Rubino. “They have a very strong program, and won their conference title [Mid-Central Conference] in the fall.”

For the Belles, the new season brings many changes and new faces. Saint Mary’s features a new head coach, Chuck Rubino, as well as eight freshmen on the roster to join just two returning sophomores, Camille Gebert and Lisa Rubino.

Four of the eight freshmen are starting, having already proven able to handle college level competition over break. Freshman Jillian Hurley had a standout week for the Belles, going 6-1 in singles and 3-4 in doubles with Gebert. Hurley was also named Saint Mary’s co-athlete of the week, sharing the honor with softball player Calli Davison.

The Belles came back from break pleased with their team’s performance and achieved the two main goals Rubino had set forth: have a winning record and show improvement throughout the week.

“After getting some match play in over spring break, I think we are all very ready to play our first dual match of the season,” said sophomore Camille Gebert. “We are lucky to be playing a competitive team like Indiana Wesleyan because it will provide us with good preparation heading into MIAA competition.

Heading into Saturday’s match, Rubino has set new goals for his team, and feels there are areas where improvements can be made.

“The goal is obviously to try to beat them,” Rubino said. “We just want to compete in every flight. It’s a good preparation going into the Albion match, and a good test for us. Saturday we want to continue the improvement we showed over break and build on it. Indiana Wesleyan is a strong team, we played strong teams over break, and want to try to build and improve from match to match.”

Rubino will start the same six girls in singles play and keep the same doubles pairs that competed early in the break week. “We need to do a better job with our doubles,” Rubino said. We are working on getting two up to the net and building chemistry. It’s tough with freshmen on the team and new pairs.”

Rubino said the Belles are excited to face the tough competition.

“We are looking forward to playing,” Rubino said. “It will be a good challenge for us.”

Gebert seconded her coach’s excitement heading into this match.

“I have confidence that we will pull through as a team,” Gebert said. “The wins will come, along with the losses, but it’s important, with such a young team, to make sure we win for each other. We have a lot of depth, and a lot of heart.  We are eager to start competing.”  

The Belles will begin the match against the Wildcats on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.