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SMC Tennis: Belles take on Kalamazoo with playoffs on the line

Samantha Zuba | Friday, April 26, 2013

 

Saturday marks the end of the regular season for the Belles, who will travel to Michigan to face Kalamazoo in a conference showdown with major postseason implications.

Kalamazoo (11-7, 6-1 MIAA) currently holds second place in the MIAA conference. Saint Mary’s (10-7, 4-3 MIAA) sits in fourth place, the last spot that can qualify for the upcoming MIAA tournament. A loss Saturday would drop Saint Mary’s to 4-4 in the conference and force a tie with Calvin for fourth. A win sends the Belles to the tournament.

Coach Dale Campbell said that the Belles know making the tournament is still a possibility despite Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Calvin, but the team can’t focus on the tournament yet.

“Can’t look ahead, just know in the back of your mind that it is possible,” Campbell said.

Despite the temptation to look ahead to the tournament, Campbell expressed confidence his players would be able to maintain the right mentality on Saturday. 

“Tennis players are taught to keep their eyes on the ball and play the next shot, that simple, one moment at a time,” Campbell said.

The Belles last defeated Kalamazoo in 2008 when the Belles qualified for the MIAA tournament by finishing fourth. Since then, Saint Mary’s has struggled against the Hornets, most recently suffering a 6-3 loss in 2012. 

“They are very tough in singles and seem to be growing in doubles, so we will have to bring our best game,” Campbell said.

To succeed in playing to their potential, the Belles will have to be aggressive, according to Campbell. This is a refrain he has repeated often this season. For singles, Campbell encouraged a more calculated strategy.

“[It’s] being aggressive in doubles, patient and figuring out how to create openings in singles,” Campbell said.

Although Saint Mary’s has goals and a game plan, Campbell said he wanted to avoid having too many expectations. 

“No expectations, just play your best, pull out the win and you make the tournament,” Campbell said.

Saint Mary’s will try to secure a spot in the MIAA tournament at Kalamazoo on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu