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SMC Tennis: Belles earn key conference win

Aaron Sant-Miller | Monday, April 23, 2012

On Sunday, the Belles took a huge step toward making the MIAA conference tournament by beating conference opponent Adrian, 7-2.

Saint Mary’s (10-7, 3-3 MIAA) started hot by winning all three doubles matches. Adrian (6-8, 2-6) managed to claim two of the singles matches, but the Belles proved victorious in the other four.

For the Belles, winning doubles has been a reoccurring goal. It was no surprise that things were more of the same Sunday.

“It was a very cold start and a very windy day,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “We talked about the importance of doubles since we play doubles first, and wanted to get off to a good start.”

The Belles did exactly that, as they swept all three matches, managing a tiebreaker victory in the first doubles. Working together in first doubles, sophomore Mary Catherine Faller and freshman Audrey Kiefer won a 9-7 tiebreaker set, claiming the sweep for the Belles. Campbell said starting like this is crucial, as it can greatly affect the tone of the match.

“Going up 3-0 at the start of the match really helped us set the tone of the match for the rest of the day,” Campbell said. “It was really important to get off to that kind of lead, because it seemed to get Adrian down a bit, and it affected them the rest of the way.”

This lasting effect showed up on the score sheet, as the Belles claimed four of the six singles matches.

Both Faller and freshman Jackie Kjolhede managed clear 6-1, 6-0 victories. Both Kiefer and sophomore Margaret Boden claimed victories for the Belles in singles, but their Adrian opponents played a little closer. Kiefer claimed the fifth singles for the Belles, winning 6-4, 6-2, and Boden took the win at the sixth spot, winning 6-1, 6-3. Adrian’s two victories came in the second and the third singles, as freshmen Kayle Sexton and Shannon Elliott fell. Elliott did manage to make her match close, forcing a tiebreaker set, which was eventually won by Adrian senior Sarah Brooks 10-7. Sexton encountered more of a challenge, as she lost 6-0, 6-0.

“All in all, the day went really well,” Campbell said. “I thought we really performed well and pulled out a very big win.”

As a conference matchup, this win was crucial for the Belles. Only the top four teams in the conference get a chance to play in the postseason tournament. Following Sunday’s victory, the Belles sit at sixth in the standings, with two conference matches left on their schedule. This puts them in a must-win situation, Campbell said.

“This win over Adrian brings back a bit of hope, but we still have two really big games against two really good teams coming up,” Campbell said. “We are probably going to have to win both matches to get into the conference tournament, so, as a team, we really are in a must-win situation.”

These must-win matches kick off for the Belles on Tuesday, when Saint Mary’s hosts Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo (5-14, 5-2) has struggled this season, but has an impressive conference record. This means against mutual opponents Kalamazoo has done well, Campbell said.

“According to previous results against common opponents, Kalamazoo might be favored a bit,” Campbell said. “Still, we’re going to put everything together so that we can beat them.”

On Tuesday, the Belles will look to get their second conference win in a row against Kalamazoo at 4 p.m. at home, as they continue on their road to the MIAA tournament.


Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu