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Belles optimistic about year

Luke Mansour | Friday, February 12, 2010

Despite coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish in the MIAA conference last year, the Saint Mary has much reason for optimism as it heads into the new season.

The Belles return all nine players from the squad that finished with an 11-10 record from a year ago.

“Because we are a bit more experienced this year, that should help us quite a bit,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “Our expectation is to have more confidence, to make better decisions on the court and to handle the flow of the match better mentally.”

Junior Jillian Hurley and senior Camille Gebert, both standouts last year, will once again lead the team. Both were named to the all-MIAA team last season. Hurley finished with a 4-4 record in conference dual matches at the No. 1 singles position while Gebert finished with an 8-0 record at the No. 2 singles position.

The experience the Belles gained over the last year will be put to the test early in the season, as they play two very solid teams in Case Western and Olivet Nazarene during the first week. Case Western had a successful fall season, going 4-1, while Olivet-Nazarene will begin the season nationally ranked.

The Belles’ early-season schedule should give them a good barometer of their progress before heading into their conference slate.

“Case Western looks to be a very strong team,” Campbell said. “We may be looking at a nationally ranked squad. We think that we will gain some great competitive experience early in the season.”

As the season kicks off, Campbell wants the emphasis to be on improving mental toughness on the court.

“We need to keep improving strategically and making better decisions mentally,” Campbell said.

Saint Mary’s’ efforts this season will be bolstered by the addition of three new players who will provide added depth to a somewhat thin roster. Brigid Hurley and Cara Rectanus are freshmen who will join local area senior Kate Grabarek as new additions on the team this year Campbell said.

With the just season beginning, the Belles aim is to improve with every match leading up to conference play.

“Our goals are simple right now, to get better every day, and to give our best effort,” Campbell said. “With that, the results will take care of them-selves.”  

The Belles will begin their season tonight with a home match against Case Western at 6 p.m. in the Eck Tennis Center. They open conference play March 27.