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SMC Tennis: SMC places fifth at MIAA

Joe Quinn | Monday, May 1, 2006

Saint Mary’s wanted to prove it was better than its 5-3 conference record.

But the team’s fifth-place finish over the weekend in the MIAA Tournament demonstrated just how hard it is to play in the MIAA. The Belles finished 38 points behind conference champion Albion.

“I think [the team’s results] show how incredibly competitive [the MIAA] is,” Kristin Palombo said. “The top five [teams] were all so close – it was just such a tough tournament.”

Belles Kelly McDavitt and Calie Mulcahy highlighted the weekend finishing second in doubles play, while Saint Mary’s No. 6 singles player Melissa Dinger finished third to secure the team’s only top-three finish in singles play.

Besides McDavitt and Mulcahy, Palombo and Grace Gordon secured a fourth place finish in No. 2 doubles, beating Hope’s Erin Bradley and Ashley Leary 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

Palombo lost 6-1, 7-5 to Kalamazoo’s Megan Fink in the first round of No. 1 singles. Fink defeated Amy Zeilstra of Calvin for third place.

“I was disappointed in how I played personally, but I thought Grace and I played very well,” she said.

While her play on the court was not up to her own standards, the senior was named All-MIAA Second Team.

“It’s always a great honor being named to the all-league team,” said Palombo, who was an All-MIAA first-team the past two years. “It’s always an honor to be recognized by the other coaches. Especially being the number-one singles player [for a team], it’s tough to stand out.”

As the Belles No. 2 player, McDavitt was one of three players to advance to the semifinals before losing. McDavitt defeated Tri-State’s Amanda Steiner 6-3, 6-1.

The team’s No. 3 singles player, Mulcahy, defeated Olivet’s Mallory Bailey 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 before succumbing to Hope’s Ashley Leary 6-0, 6-1.

Saint Mary’s saw its No. 5 player, Tara O’Brien, advance to the semifinals before bowing out to Alyssa Logan of Calvin in two sets.

While the top five were all very close, Palombo said one team was still able to stand out above the rest.

“Albion deserved to win the championship,” she said.

“They are a very good team. But at the same time, they always carry themselves with such class. I think all of the teams in the top five gave them a run for their money, but they were the best team this weekend – and this year.”