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SMC Tennis: Belles dominate Alma in MIAA conference opener

Matt Robison | Monday, March 29, 2010

The Belles captured an 8-1 victory over Alma in their first MIAA conference match of the season Saturday behind the ever-steady performance of junior Jillian Hurley.

Doubles have been an area of focus all season long, and Saturday the Belles (8-3, 1-0) showed the results of that focus.

“We got off to a great start in doubles winning all three, one of the few times we have done that in a conference match,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said.

As the No. 1 individual performer, Hurley has yet to drop a match on the individual side. On the doubles side, she and partner, and fellow junior, Mary Therese Lee have only lost once this season. On Saturday, Lee and Hurley won their match 8-5, which got things going for the Belles as a team. Then Hurley won in a 6-3, 6-1 decision in her singles match.

“Jillian has had a great start to the season,” Campbell said. “I can’t say that I am surprised with her wins because she has an excellent offensive game, but I am more impressed with her effort to keep finding more ways to get even stronger. She has the ability to control the points with anyone.”

The significance of doubles play cannot be overstated in its importance to the Belles’ success this year.

“The main factor [in the victory] was our moving forward better in doubles.” Campbell said. “We are volleying better and creating more set-ups for our net players. We are also finishing better at the net.”

Although doubles was the strong point for the Belles in Saturday’s decisive win, Campbell said he believes further improvement in that area will lead Saint Mary’s to even more success.

“We still need to get even more net opportunities in doubles, and get our opponents reacting to our movement,” Campbell said. “However, it has been improving every match.”

The Belles’ next match is against Trine Tuesday, and then they play several nationally ranked opponents in what Campbell calls the “toughest stretch of the season” for the Belles.