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SMC Tennis: Belles start MIAA play with wins

Samantha Zuba | Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 

The Belles came up big this weekend with back-to-back victories at home against Saint Francis and Trine on Friday and Saturday. 

Saint Mary’s (4-4, 1-0 MIAA) evened its record and snagged an important conference win in the process.

Belles coach Dale Campbell said the productive weekend should have a positive effect on the team’s attitude.

“It’s always good to get two wins, and I think it does help the spirit of the team,” Campbell said. “It was good to win the first conference match against Trine as well.”

Junior Mary Catherine Faller and sophomore Kayle Sexton contributed two victories at No. 1 doubles to lead the Belles over Saint Francis on Friday and conference rival Trine on Saturday. The pair cruised to victory over Chelsea Selking and Elizabeth Faber of Saint Francis 8-3, and defeated junior Jessica Huhnke and junior Chrissy Uphaus of Trine (6-4, 0-1 MIAA) 8-4.

Saint Mary’s took an early lead against Saint Francis (7-9, 3-5 Crossroads League) on Friday, going up two matches to none after an 8-0 No. 3 doubles victory and the win by Faller and Sexton. The Belles also benefited from strong matches at the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 singles slots. Sexton, freshman Margaret Faller and sophomore Audrey Kiefer provided those three match victories to give the Belles five points and the edge over Saint Francis.

Saturday’s triumph was more secure. Saint Mary’s took six matches to Trine’s three. Several of the individual matches were nail-biters, however.

Sexton took a narrow 6-4, 6-4 victory. Margaret Faller played an even closer, more up-and-down match but managed a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win. Campbell said close wins are an important learning experiences for the Belles.
“I believe it is helpful to win some of the close matches,” Campbell said. “It develops our confidence to fight till the end of the match.”

Sophomore Jackie Kjolhede and Kiefer provided dominant wins to round out the Belles’ singles match wins. Margaret Faller and sophomore Shannon Elliott added a sixth victory in No. 3 doubles competition.

Campbell said the conference win was important but his team has to keep the whole season in perspective.

“I think we have gained confidence, but we have talked about the need to simply keep improving,” Campbell said. “That will be important as we play our toughest conference opponents.”

Notably absent over the weekend were singles victories from junior Mary Catherine Faller, who dropped both of her singles matches. Campbell said he nevertheless maintains confidence in his team leader.

“There have been some matches where she gets the only win for our team, and both of these opponents had difficult styles with their No. 1 players,” Campbell said. “I have confidence that Mary Catherine will figure out how to beat this type of player, and I know she has the ability.”

Saint Mary’s next match against Judson on Wednesday was cancelled due to weather conditions. The Belles will next play April 4 against Olivet at 4 p.m.

Contact Samantha Zuba at  szuba@nd.edu