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SMC Tennis

Belles ready to begin postseason against top-ranked Hope

| Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Saint Mary’s begins postseason play this Thursday after snagging the fourth spot in the final conference standings. Saint Mary’s will begin the MIAA tournament against top-seeded Hope.

The Flying Dutch (18-4, 8-0 MIAA), the regular season MIAA champion, defeated the Belles (11-9, 5-3 MIAA) earlier in the season by a score of 9-0. Saint Mary’s three conference losses all came against the other teams in the MIAA tournament, including a loss to second-seeded Kalamazoo to end the season.

Belles junior Margaret Feller readies for a return from Adrian's Justine Hanson on April 14. Feller won 6-1, 6-0.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Belles junior Margaret Feller readies for a return from Adrian’s Justine Hanson on April 14. Feller won 6-1, 6-0, while her team claimed an 8-1 victory.

Nearly two months later, the Belles are a different team than they were in their first conference match of the season against Hope, Belles head coach Dale Campbell said. Even after a tough lost to Kalamazoo last week, Campbell said his team has come a long way throughout the course of the season and has all the tools to orchestrate an upset of the No. 1 seed.

“We are more aggressive and have gained a lot of experience with our partnerships,” Campbell said. “Teams are talking better and pick each other up when needed.”

Campbell said their Thursday match will be a battle of short rallies and long, drawn out points.

“We have to slow them [Hope] down before we beat can beat them, it’s not simple,” Campbell said, “We have to play long points and test them physically a bit.”

The Belles’ and Flying Dutch’s lineup match up well in comparison to each other. The Belles have just one more freshman than the Flying Dutch, but Campbell said for the most part the Belles will be relaxed in terms of player-to-player matchups. However, he said there are key matches that, with wins, the Belles can use to swing momentum in their favor down the stretch. Doubles for the Belles put up the toughest fight against Kalamazoo, so the pairings will again play a key role in gaining early momentum.

“We need to win at least one of the doubles matches, maybe two,” Campbell said.

Belles senior Kayle Sexton serves during an 8-1 loss to Hope on April 17, 2014. Sexton is 4-2 over her last six singles matches for the Belles.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Belles senior Kayle Sexton serves during an 8-1 loss to Hope on April 17, 2014. Sexton is 4-2 over her last six singles matches for the Belles.

Hope will be a test of endurance considering their proficiency in all aspects of the game as the Flying Dutch did not suffer a single conference loss on the season, Campbell said. In order to pull off the upset though, he stressed the importance of notching singles wins as well.

“We [also] need to get ahead early in some of our singles matches and show that we can fight them out, and then others can draw on that momentum,” Campbell said.

The Belles look to punch their ticket to the MIAA championship match Thursday in their semifinal matchup against Hope. Play is slated to kick off in Holland, Michigan, at 4 p.m.

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