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SMC Tennis: Belles begin season with doubleheader

Samantha Zuba | Thursday, February 7, 2013

 

Saint Mary’s will open its season Saturday against Case Western Reserve and Ohio Northern.

The Belles hope to build on a strong showing from last year’s young team. Composed entirely of freshmen and sophomores, the 2012 Belles managed a winning season despite having only two members with prior collegiate playing experience. The freshmen had to adjust quickly to being in the starting lineup. 

Belles coach Dale Campbell said he expects these players to make even bigger contributions this year, and he believes the new group of freshmen can make an impact.

“Last year, we had a winning season even though we were a young team,” Campbell said. “We have a fair number of returners, so I like to think we could step it up another notch. We have freshmen that will be in the lineup and will fit in with the returners.”

Saint Mary’s opened last season against Case Western Reserve (2-0) as well. The Belles dropped the match to the regionally-ranked Spartans and expect Case Western Reserve to be tough competition this season too. However, Campbell regards the challenging opening matches as important opportunities for his team.

“Case Western is a very strong opponent,” Campbell said. “This will be a good chance to see someone who is as strong as our conference opponents. It gives us a good chance to see where we stand. Ohio Northern is a good opponent as well.”

When asked about which players to watch, Campbell responded that he is looking forward to watching his entire team start the season.

“With our freshmen, it’s the first time to get to see them play and see how they do in competition,” Campbell said. “Our returners did a great job last year. Mary Catherine Faller is a junior and our number one player, and it will be exciting to see her. I’m excited to see everyone play.”

Watching new players dive into competition could create challenges with team leadership. Campbell acknowledged that the upcoming season will be a development process for his team in terms of leadership as well as tennis skills.

“I think that we are still continuing to develop our leaders,” Campbell said. “We have only been practicing for three weeks, and we’re in the process of selecting our captains this week. We’ve talked about our leadership and, in our meetings, we’ve been trying to encourage our upperclassmen. We’re still very young and trying to develop leaders.”

Faller has previously served as a team captain and was one of Saint Mary’s strongest players last season. She will likely play an important role both on and off the court again this year. Campbell, though, stressed the importance of a team effort. 

“We do things as a team to try to bond to get team spirit,” Campbell said. “We talk about playing for the team and playing for the school. We do some activities together, like taking advantage of service opportunities outside of tennis. We do things together that stress the element of team even though you are out there as an individual.”

The Belles open the season with a doubleheader at Case Western Reserve on Saturday against the Spartans at 9 a.m. and Ohio Northern at 1 p.m

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu