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SMC Tennis

Saint Mary’s tops Olivet in conference opener

| Monday, April 4, 2016

Saint Mary’s defeated Olivet, its first conference opponent, Friday by a final score of 7-2.

Belles head coach Dale Campbell said it felt good for his team to get its first conference win under its belt, and the knowledge of the higher stakes in conference play adds to players’ preparation and attitude.

“Every win feels good, and you want to take care of business in all conference matches,” Campbell said. “It is a different feeling, and it is good to get that experience. I truly think it does [change attitudes to be in conference play], especially when [returning players] have that history and know the importance.”

The Belles (8-3, 1-0 MIAA) finished the doubles portion of the match with a 2-1 lead. Senior captain Margaret Faller and sophomore Maddie Minaudo started the match strongly with an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles and were followed by junior Kaity Venters and freshman Abbi Fleming, who also proved victorious with a 9-7 win in the No. 3 doubles match. Campbell said the team dynamics and teamwork have continued to improve.

“Our No. 2 doubles team has shown great composure as they figure out how to win their matches,” Campbell said. “ … This team and our No. 3 team had great comebacks to get critical wins. We had an excellent finish by [freshman] Monica Davy at No. 1 [singles], Margaret Faller and Kaity Venters both had solid finishes in tight situations and Maddie Minaudo continued her winning ways. [Freshman] Elizabeth Preister also had a dominant win. We have won about 90 percent of our tiebreaker situations this year, which is very impressive.”

In singles play, Preister, Venters, Minaudo, Faller and Davy all out-played their opponents on their way to victories. Junior Sam Setterblad fell 6-2, 6-4 in No. 2 singles. With that performance in the singles portion of the match, the Belles earned the overall team win, 7-2. Campbell said he is pushing continuous improvement this season within his team, even if it does not show results on paper.

“On paper matters less because improving is the key in my book,” Campbell said. “But losing a conference match that you should win can cause a team not to make the final four conference tournament.”

Campbell said he is not very concerned by the two matches lost to Olivet, who currently sits in last place in the conference standings.

“We were without our top singles player, who had to be out, so there was no concern other than I thought we didn’t have a fast start in doubles,” Campbell said. “That is something we don’t want to repeat. Doubles always has a greater level of volatility in terms of predicting the results. The teams do vary in where the strength of their team may lie.”

Saint Mary’s will continue their conference slate with a home match against Hope on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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