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SMC Tennis: Going gets tough for Belles on road ahead

Aaron Sant-Miller | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wins are important to the Belles regardless of the opponent, but the real focus for the team is making a mark the conference. Monday, Saint Mary’s struggled to do that, falling to MIAA foe Calvin 6-3 at home.

“[Losing a third conference game] definitely puts us behind our goals,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “We would have to do something extraordinary at this point to get ourselves in the conference tournament to be honest.”

To get into the tournament, Saint Mary’s (9-7, 2-3 MIAA) would have to finish the season as one of the top-four teams in the conference. The loss to Calvin (5-10, 3-2) puts Saint Mary’s in seventh in the MIAA standings.

Against the Knights, the match started rough in doubles, an area where Saint Mary’s usually performs well. Calvin was able to win both the first and second doubles, despite both matches seesawing back and forth and coming down to the wire. The Knights claimed the first doubles match 8-6, and squeaked out the second win, 9-8, in a tiebreaker set. The Belles did manage a tight victory in the third doubles match behind the solid play of sophomore Margaret Boden and freshman Jackie Kjolhede.

“We had really close games in the doubles, and it felt like perhaps those matches were the key,” Campbell said. “It would have been good to win all three doubles based on our performance in singles.”

In singles, the Belles fell to the Knights in four of the six matchups. Sophomore Mary Catherine Faller pulled out a close victory for the Belles in the first singles spot. Faller was able to battle through a super-tiebreaker set to grab one of the two Belles victories in singles. In addition, freshman Shannon Elliot turned in a win for the Belles at the third spot.

Campbell said the road gets tough from here on out for the Belles.

“We need to beat Adrian and we need to beat Kalamazoo at the minimum,” Campbell said. “That makes it really tough on us.”

The Belles had been slated to play at Adrian this past Saturday, but due to inclement weather and heavy rain, the game has been postponed to either Thursday or Friday. The date of the matchup will be set tomorrow.

Kalamazoo and Adrian are two of the remaining three conference matchups left on the Belles’schedule. The third matchup is against Hope College. Hope (12-6, 5-0 MIAA) boasts a solid overall record and is undefeated in the conference, which makes things even tougher for the Belles, Campbell said.

“Hope is usually one of the strongest teams in our conference,” Campbell said. “So, realistically, perhaps we may have to win all three to make a mark in the tournament.”

As such, it’s an uphill struggle for the Belles. On either Thursday or Friday, the Belles will make the trip to Adrian to try to pull out a win and reach a .500 mark in the conference. Until that match is scheduled, the next date on the Belles schedule is home against Kalamazoo on April 24. That matchup will begin at 4 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

 

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu