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SMC Tennis: Sexton clinches victory for Belles over Bethel

Aaron Sant-Miller | Friday, April 13, 2012

With the whole match riding on her performance, freshman Kayle Sexton showed maturity and toughness beyond her years. Sexton, playing at the No. 2 singles spot, clinched a 5-4 win for the Belles over Bethel with a dominant performance in her third set.

This was the first match for the Belles (9-6, 2-2 MIAA) in twelve days, but the rest didn’t appear to slow Saint Mary’s down against Bethel (10-7, 4-4 MCC).

“It was a great match,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “We have beaten Bethel a number of times before, but their team was stronger this year.”

Campbell said he was expecting a good matchup, but the match managed to even top his expectations.

“I was expecting a good battle, and it turned out to be an even better battle,” Campbell said. “It was a very good come from behind team win that shows the fight and ability of our team to win such a close match.”

Sexton was not the only Belle whose performance stood out to Campbell. Sophomore Mary Catherine Faller managed a 7-5, 7-5 win over Bethel sophomore Molly O’Grady.

“[Faller’s] opponent was perhaps a scholarship-level player,” Campbell said. “In Division III we don’t have athlete scholarships so she is a rare talent.”

O’Grady was Bethel’s co-MVP last season, while also turning in an All-MCC season.

“[Faller] really played a pretty tough number one,” Campbell said. “I thought she was playing her best and really displayed her talent to win that match.”

Outside of Sexton and Faller, freshmen Jackie Kjolhede and Audrey Kiefer managed victories for the Belles in singles. Surprisingly, the Belles struggled against Bethel in doubles, losing two of the three matches. Still, Sexton and freshman Shannon Elliot were able to take the second doubles match with an impressive 8-2 victory.

“Today, we didn’t come out as ready early on in doubles, so we got behind early,” Campbell said. “Usually we take care of business in the doubles matches where we appear to be at a little higher percentage this season compared to singles.”

This is an area where the Belles will look to improve when they play next. On Saturday, the Belles travel to Adrian for a conference match.

“I think we need to come out strong in doubles,” Campbell said. “It’s important to us to try to win two or three of those doubles matches.”

As a conference opponent, the matchup against Adrian (5-5, 2-3 MIAA) will prove to be important down the line for the Belles. Campbell said the match should also be a close contest, as Adrian is a much-improved team from last year.

“I think we’ve had similar results against similar teams, so it should be a good match,” Campbell said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had another very close match.”

The Belles will look to get their third win in a row and move above the .500 mark in the conference as they play at Adrian on Saturday at 1 p.m.

 

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu