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SMC Tennis: Saint Mary’s falls in a 5-4 nailbiter to Bethel

Greg Arbogast | Friday, April 21, 2006

In its final tune-up before Saturday’s conference finale against Calvin, Saint Mary’s fell short against Bethel College 5-4 Thursday at Saint Mary’s tennis center.

With the two teams tied at four wins each, senior Kristen Palombo battled back to win the second set of her match against Robin Braun.

With the sunlight rapidly fading, the two girls were forced to play an ultimate tie-breaker in place of the third set, and Palombo came up just short losing by a score of 6-4, 6-7 (5), 1-0 (10-8).

Before its match against Bethel, the team talked about its concern with winning the key points in close matches. The squad’s inability to do so was a major reason it lost 9-0 to Albion. The same problem also plagued the Belles against Bethel.

In addition to Palombo’s match, the team of junior Kelly McDavitt and junior Calie Mulcahy lost their doubles match to Robin Braun and Bree Oles by the score of 9-7, and the team of Palombo and junior Grace Gordon were defeated by Emily Lamport and Missy Vermillia by the score of 9-8 (3).

“We did better than we have in the past in the close games,” Palombo said. “But, it was still very frustrating, because we weren’t able to get over that final hurdle.”

Saint Mary’s also played Thursday’s match without the services of sophomore Tara O’Brien, who has recently occupied the No. 5 singles spot for the Belles.

Freshman Melissa Dingler filled in for O’Brien and she won her singles match over Sherra Milendar 6-4, 6-0.

O’Brien’s absence, however, meant that sophomore Cassie Quaglia, who had yet to play a singles match this season, was pressed into action at the No. 6 singles spot. Quaglia was competitive against Bethel’s Jade Walus, but she ultimately fell by the score of 7-6 (5), 6-1.

“It was slightly disappointing because the injury affected us,” Palombo said. “We also tried working on some different aspects of our game in the doubles matches, and I think that also affected our performance.”

With the loss, Saint Mary’s record drops to 10-8 for the season, and it will play Calvin in its final conference match this Saturday before the MIAA conference tournament on April 28-29. Despite Thursday’s loss against Bethel, the team is still very upbeat for Saturday’s match.

“We’re going to think about the result of this match too much, because a lot of people were happy with the way they played,” Palombo said. “We’re excited to go out there on Saturday and finish the conference season off on a positive note.”