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SMC Tennis: Belles hope to come out on top of close matches

Jack Hefferon | Friday, April 1, 2011

Saint Mary’s is counting on their hard work paying off this weekend when they face Trine and North Central at home.

The Belles (5-5, 0-1) were bested Tuesday in the conference opener by visiting Albion, 7-2. Despite the margin, most of the matches were very close. This was especially true on the singles side, where Saint Mary’s forced a third set or tiebreaker in four of five losses. That effort was not enough to beat the Britons (5-1), but Belles coach Dale Campbell said his players would stay confident and be aggressive going forward.

“We have to stay assertive, and remain especially offensive in doubles. We have discussed that we have to play every match to win. We can’t win playing defensively. It serves us no purpose in any of our matches. The best teams play offensively,” Campbell said.

The Belles offensive will take on Trine Saturday, a conference matchup they have fared well in in the past. Saint Mary’s has swept the Thunder (3-6) 9-0 in each of their past two meetings. Trine’s main strength is the top of its doubles lineup. Their first two pairings are 8-4 on the year. While doubles play has been a point of emphasis for Campbell all year, he doesn’t believe that the Belles will need to change their methods.

“We don’t typically need to adjust to our opponents. We need to play our game, do the plays we know how to execute and play the high percentage shots,” Campbell said.

While it is still early in the campaign and the MIAA tournament is still almost a month away, getting the first win in the conference is a big step in any season. Campbell knows that every conference game counts, and not just for the Belles’ record.

“It is very important for conference tournament seeding, and simply the pride in beating a conference opponent,” Campbell said. “This is why we play — to be a part of the rivalries and to succeed.”

After playing Trine, Saint Mary’s will have a short turnaround before they face North Central in a non-conference matchup. The Belles beat the Cardinals (10-3) last year as well, but in a slim 5-4 decision. Despite that victory, Campbell believes that his squad will need another strong showing to win again.

“They had a very balanced lineup, and gave us a battle last year. They have a lot of depth on their team and I expect a great match,” Campbell said.

The Belles weekend home stand will kick off against the Thunder at 1 p.m. Sunday’s match against North Central will also start at 1 p.m.