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SMC TENNIS: Belles anticipating tough matches from the young but potent Comets

Patrick McCabe | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Saint Mary’s tennis team plays at home today against Olivet at 3 pm., facing a Comet roster that features freshman and sophomore players.

Regardless, Belles Coach Dee Stevenson is wary.

“Olivet’s been improving every year,” Stevenson said. “Our first concern is to win the matches.”

Co-captains Kristen Palombo and Miranda Mikulyuk are more confident.

“We expect no one to lose. They graduated a whole number of players three years ago so they’re rebuilding,” Palombo said.

“We’d love to see a 9-0 win. We always enjoy playing them, but we’re not expecting a problem,” Mik-ulyuk said.

The team in-tends to expand and experiment with its shot repertoire and style of play during the contests.

“This is definitely one of the matches where we work on new things, such as serving and volleying and coming to the net,” Palombo said. “We will play more aggressive.”

“I always try to develop my game, even against better opponents,” Mikulyuk said. “But this is also a good time to do so, especially our doubles’ new I-formation, which we have yet to use during a match.”

Despite the youth of both teams, a quick, crisp and clean performance is expected.

“We expect to play well and solid,” Palombo said. “Everyone has an off-day,” Mikulyuk said. “You can’t let it get to you. But I don’t think we’ll play sloppy.”

Coach Stevenson admits that his players’ concentration wanes when facing inexperienced and purportedly lesser competition.

“Our focus drops sometimes, but we have worry about our game, not theirs,” Mikulyuk said.

However, possible inclement weather may compound distractions.

“It’s always hard,” Stevenson said. “The forecast includes cold and possible wet conditions. It’s easy to lose focus and hard to play in tough conditions. We hope for playable conditions because we don’t want to travel to Lansing to play them at the season’s end. Also, we must adjust from playing in warm Orlando to playing in 40 degree weather in South Bend.”

Other worries vex Coach Stevenson, particularly the health and status of an undisclosed player.

“We’re waiting for the results of an MRI scan on her knee,” Stevenson said. “We’re in a state of flux. Her injury causes problems for our doubles.”

Despite this possible loss, Mikulyuk remains optimistic and upbeat.

“Spring break definitely helped our doubles’ chemistry,” Mikulyuk said. “But we always look for improvement, notably communication. Increased familiarity with one another will help us communicate wordlessly and thereby accelerate our play. Partners can play for years and still improve their communication.”