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SMC Tennis: Belles look to remain unbeaten in conference

Matt Robison | Wednesday, April 7, 2010

After defeating Alma and Trine, two of the weaker teams in the conference, Saint Mary’s will face Calvin, its first formidable opponent in MIAA play, at home today.

In order to place well in the conference tournament, the Belles (8-3, 2-0) need to win matches against top teams like the Knights.

“This match could have an impact on seeding for our conference tournament,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “Calvin is a very strong team, so it will be good to see where we stack up with them.”

Campbell has seen steady improvement this season, something that every coach loves to see in his players.

“Our growth has been substantial,” Campbell said. “We are a more mature team than we were last year. We think more between points and on changeovers and seem to adjust our styles of play better than last year.”

Early on, the focus was on doubles play, attacking the net and shot-making. Now, the Belles are just trying to iron out the kinks as they head into the heart of their MIAA schedule.

“Our focus has not been on one particular area,” Campbell said. “We are trying to improve all aspects of our game.”

The Belles have a definitive strategy every time they step on the court. When they adhere to the plan, the result is usually in their favor, Campbell said.

“We need to continue to move forward in doubles and attack the ball,” he said. “In singles, we need to play an offensive, yet high-percentage strategy to prepare for our toughest opponents.”

Those tough opponents are on the way, and Calvin is the first in a string of challenging competition. Getting out of this match with a victory could be a solid starting point for the Belles.

“We have a tough stretch in the schedule right now,” Campbell said. “Hopefully, we can do well here, while also improving ahead of the conference tournament.”

Junior Jillian Hurley has yet to lose in singles play this season, and she has won 10 straight doubles matches with her partner, junior Mary Therese Lee.

Campbell is confident in the Belles’ chances of pulling out a crucial victory today. He said he expects it “to be close, yet for us to pull through in the end.”

As competitors, the Belles look forward to this type of challenge, and Campbell expects the best out of the players.

“We play for this type of competition,” Campbell said. “This is where we want to be.”