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SMC Tennis: Belles defeat Calvin to continue hot streak

Matthew DeFranks | Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another MIAA match, another Belles win. Saint Mary’s took a 5-4 decision yesterday against conference foe Calvin to grab sole possession of third place in the MIAA standings.

Since dropping their opening conference match to Albion Mar. 29, the Belles have rebounded to win five of the last six MIAA matches and six of seven overall.

“It’s a good time to peak at the end of the season,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “We’ve made some adjustments to our play but we still have a big conference match against Kalamazoo.”

The top three singles players led the Knights (7-9, 4-3 MIAA) by winning each of their matches in straight sets, losing only eight games in those matches. Reigning MIAA Player of the Year Melissa Oosterhouse defeated Saint Mary’s senior Jillian Hurley 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 1 singles match-up.

The Belles rebounded, however, to take the remaining three singles matches — all in straight sets. Senior Franca Peluso easily beat Lauren Schlagenhauf 6-4, 6-0, in the No. 4 singles match-up. Seniors Kate Grabarek and Mary Therese Lee also earned singles victories, with Lee’s win clinching the overall victory for Saint Mary’s.

“We knew this team was strong at the top [of singles play] and we thought we could match-up all the way down,”

Campbell said. “We were down by one and our bottom two pulled it out for us.”

In doubles play, the Belles (12-6, 5-2) won two of the three matches, giving them an edge early on. Senior Jessica Kosinski and freshman Mary Katherine Faller won comfortably 8-5. Peluso and Lee also won their match 8-6 to give the Belles an important lead.

“It’s always a point of emphasis for us to win at least two [doubles matches] against strong competition,” Campbell said. “It was a difference maker for us [Monday].”

The Belles will venture out of conference today when they play NAIA foe Indiana Wesleyan. The Wildcats carry a daunting 21-1 record in NAIA play.

“They are an excellent team that’s usually ranked,” Campbell said. “We just want to get some match experience against them.”

Weather permitting, the Belles and Wildcats face off today at 4 p.m.