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SMC Tennis: Belles prepare for first road match

Luke Mansour | Friday, February 26, 2010

The Belles take on North Central College Sunday in their first away match and final tune-up before their annual spring break trip.

“We don’t have a lot of history against this team, so we have to plan on them getting up for us,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “Also, playing at their place, we could be playing on a fast indoor surface, which we have not played on yet this year.  We will potentially have to make adjustments to handle the different pace.”

Only a week after suffering a tough loss to non-conference opponent Case Western to begin its season, Saint Mary’s faced a daunting task as No. 24 Olivet-Nazarene came to town last weekend.

But the Belles (1-1, 0-0) were up to the task, scoring a signature victory in just their second match of the season, toppling the Tigers by a score of 5-4.

The Belles came back from an early 3-1 deficit to claim their first victory of the season, getting key victories at the No. 4 and No. 5 singles spots to record the victory.

“In one aspect, it helps in that we know we can fight back in matches and pull out a close team victory,” Campbell said. “It shows how important it is to hang in every match and to try and pull out a win.”

Juniors Franca Peluso and Mary Therese Lee both had to come back from deficits in the first set of their matches. Peluso fell behind 5-2 in her match at No. 4 singles before storming back to win the first set in a tiebreaker.

Lee also had to battle back from a 5-4 deficit to claim her first set 7-5. Both juniors’ experience was on full display as they were able to hang mentally tough with the outcome on the line.

“We are trying to improve our mental toughness and we certainly talk about that,” Campbell said. “With our lineup consisting of primarily juniors and one senior, we are looking for that maturity to carry over into their decision-making and poise in their matches.”

Lee also teamed up with junior Jillian Hurley to record a win for the Belles at No. 2 doubles.

The pair survived a rally by their Tiger opponents and held on to win 9-7.

“Some of my teammates pulled out tough matches and really stepped up to the plate and made up for those of us who struggled,” senior Camille Gebert said. “It was a great mental and physical effort to come up strong when we needed it the most.”

Hurley and junior Jessica Kosinski recorded wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 singles positions, respectively, to round out the scoring for the Belles.

Hurley won in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, while Kosinski battled back from a one-set deficit to record a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

“Jessica Kosinski did a great job of coming back and winning in three sets in her match,” Campbell said.

Still, one trouble area for the squad remains at doubles, where the Belles have lost five of six matches in their first two dual meets.

“We need to work on our doubles play,” Gebert said. “We have always been stronger in oursingles lineup than our doubles lineup, and I think this is what has kept us from getting over the hump and beating the top teams in the past.”

The Belles will take on North Central on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Naperville, Ill.