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SMC Tennis: Belles host a pair of conference foes Saturday

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 24, 2006

Coming off its 6-3 victory over Olivet College, Saint Mary’s looks to extend its winning streak against Aquinas College and Adrian College at home this Saturday.

Last Tuesday’s win over Olivet was the fourth in a row for the Belles, who have also defeated Minnesota State – Moorhead, Bentley and Milsaps during their current winning streak. All three of those victories occurred during the team’s annual trip to Orlando over spring break.

After losing three of four matches to open the season, Saint Mary’s recent win streak has come at a good time.

“We had some sick players and some injured players who got better towards the end of our time in Florida,” Belles coach Dee Stevenson said. “That played in a big role starting our winning streak.”

Defeating Olivet also gave Saint Mary’s its first conference win of the season as the Belles look to improve on last year’s fifth place finish in the MIAA. While last Tuesday’s victory gets the team off to a good start in conference play, the real test still awaits as last year’s Saint Mary’s team swept its matches against Olivet.

That first real conference test will take place next Wednesday when the Belles compete against a Hope team that finished second in conference last year.

But right now, all of the team’s focus is on Adrian and Aquinas.

Of the two, the Belles expect to receive a tougher challenge from Aquinas, a team that boasts a 5-2 record coming into this weekend’s match.

Although Aquinas is coming off a loss to Temple University, the Saints won five matches in a row before falling to Temple.

“If we want to beat Aquinas, we’re really going to have to keep our concentration levels up,” Stevenson said.

Before the Belles take on Aquinas Saturday evening, they will play conference foe Adrian earlier in the afternoon.

Adrian is coming off a 9-0 loss to last year’s conference champion, Albion.

The loss drops the Bulldogs to 0-4 on the season, but Stevenson doesn’t expect his players to take their conference rival lightly.

“One of our biggest goals every year is winning the conference, so keeping the girls focused won’t be a big problem,” he said.