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SMC Tennis: Belles roll into Olivet match

D.H. Kim | Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Belles rolled to two straight wins last week, closely defeating St. Francis 5-4 Friday and dominating Trine the following day 6-3 to break even at a 4-4 record.

The pair of wins was a great confidence booster for the team, and now they’ll look to keep that momentum going into their matchup with conference foe Olivet tonight.

In preparation to try and continue their streak, the Belles will look to build on the strategies that made them so successful in the past few weeks.

Sophomore Audrey Kiefer proved to be important in the last two matches. Kiefer added a straight-set win by 6-1, 6-3 scores at number six singles against Trine and a 6-0, 6-1 win against St. Francis.  

The number one doubles duo, consisting of junior Mary Catherine Faller and sophomore Kayle Sexton, also dominated in their last two matches, beating Trine 8-4 and Saint Francis 8-3.

 “Our team is collectively working on aggressive net play in doubles and adding topspin to our singles games, and I think those techniques really helped us up and down the line-up to defeat Trine.” Faller said.

Olivet (0-5, 0-1) will head to St. Mary’s with a five-game losing streak, eagerly seeking to change things around as the Belles have done.

They were shut out 9-0 by Alma, but freshman Sarah Crittenden and sophomore Courtney Kidder fought hard losing 8-4.  

In singles play, senior Caitlin LaValley similarly lost in a close match, eventually losing 7-6 (7-4), 7-5. Olivet, in desperation mode, will likely have a strong showing against the Belles to build some momentum to start a winning streak of their own.

 “We beat them 7-2 last year, but you just don’t know. In particular we are practicing to play aggressively and get more net play,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said.

The Belles may have breezed through Olivet last year, but the squad has a new concern regarding sophomore Shannon Elliot. She  was diagnosed with a shoulder injury that had affected the Belles’ lineup since spring break.

“We are making adjustments to doubles teams and positions, so we have to stay focus on winning all three doubles matches to get an early lead against Olivet,” Kiefer said.

The Belles hope to avoid further injuries and stay perfect in conference play Thursday at home as they take on Olivet at 4 p.m.  

Contact D.H. Kim at dkim16@nd.edu