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SMC TENNIS: Belles open MIAA schedule at Tri-State

Patrick McCabe | Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Saint Mary’s will tackle the Tri-State Thunder in a road match today at 3 p.m.

Although Tri-State is enjoying its inaugural year in the MIAA, the Belles have faced them for several years. The Thunder are currently 0-2 in conference play and 1-9 overall. The Belles are 0-0.

Despite the Thunder’s record, Belles coach Dee Stevenson expects focus and diligence from his team. He also mentioned his teams was hungry and eager to begin league play.

“They have been waiting for this since spring break,” he said. “This is a somewhat crucial match. We have beaten them often in the past, but we must start league play well.”

Despite sending many underclassmen to play Adrian College this past Saturday, Stevenson intends to start his regulars.

“I will play my regulars since whatever our team does will affect [regular season] conference standings and postseason seeds.”

However, the 3-5 start to the season has neither disheartened nor fazed the Belles.

Stevenson also addressed the loss of Grace Gordon to an ACL injury and the overall slate of injuries dogging the Belles.

“This is a new situation for us,” he said. “Prior to this season, I have never had a player severely injured. Now, we have three who have injured knees. Grace’s injury has constrained us to adjust our singles and doubles arrangements. We’re all disappointed, particularly the girls and Grace.”

But Grace continues to actively support and bolster the team’s confidence.

“She accompanied us to the Chicago match and is now our team manager for the remainder of the season, although I have never had one before,” Stevenson said.

Ironically, the Belles hope thunder will not be an issue for today’s match.

Inclement weather has twice force postponements of a match against Olivet and has frustrated Stevenson.

“We are hoping that our match is not rained out,” he said. “We have already postponed one and want to avoid delaying another. The season is already short.”

In addition to compressing the Belles’ schedule, the foul weather had reduced court time and restricted the players to indoor conditioning.

Nonetheless, Stevenson forecasts clean play for Tuesday.

“We should exhibit no rust,” he said. “The players have had more court time recently and practice a lot. We have to keep practicing to stay sharp,” he said.