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SMC Tennis;Belles start season over .500 in Orlando

Meaghan Veselik | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Playing seven matches in five days isn’t ideal for any team, but Saint Mary’s managed to come out on top in four of them as it opened up its tenth season over spring break in Orlando. Their young team of two sophomores and eight freshmen ended the week with a record of 4-3.

“One of our goals of the week was to have a winning record and we achieved that goal,” Belles coach Chuck Rubino said. “Another goal we achieved was showing improvement, which we definitely did towards the end of the week.”

Saint Mary’s began play on March 2 against Methodist College, an NCAA qualifier last season. The Belles lost 8-1, with their only victory coming from freshman Laura Arnolds, who beat Methodist’s Lauren Hulse 6-4, 6-3.

As the week progressed, Saint Mary’s seemed to overcome their first match anxieties and grabbed a 7-2 win over Martin Methodist early on Monday. But the Belles were unable to keep the momentum as they lost 8-1 to Div. II Grand Valley State Monday afternoon.

Against Martin Methodist, freshmen Belles Jillian Hurley, Betsy Reed, Jessica Camp, and Jessica Kosinski all came out on top in singles play. Sophomore Lisa Rubino also won her match. Rubino and Reed dominated Martin Methodist’s Fidelina Diaz and Allison Winters 8-2 on the doubles side, while the Saint Mary’s pair of sophomore Camille Gebert and Hurley fell 8-1 to Martin Methodist’s Jenny Herring and Flora de la Garza.

The Grand Valley State matchup was another story for Saint Mary’s. The Belles weren’t swept thanks to a win by No. 2 singles player Hurley, who downed Grand Valley’s Katelyn Grashorn 7-6, 6-4.

A day off from competing proved to be exactly what Saint Mary’s needed. On both Wednesday and Thursday the Belles beat both King’s and Ursaline 9-0. Gebert and Hurley proved themselves as the Belles No. 1 doubles pair, winning 8-0 on Wednesday and Thursday. No. 3 Reed had a strong showing of her own on Thursday, defeating Ursaline’s Danielle Robinson 6-0, 6-0.

Saint Mary’s finished off the week of competition Friday, defeating St. Scholastica 7-2 but losing 6-1 to Wayne State. Gebert and Hurley showed their strength once again with an 8-5 defeat of St. Scholastica’s Katie Motley and Paula Beckermann, but were unable to carry their winning way into the afternoon, losing 8-2 to Wayne State’s Milena Vuksonwowich and Sharon Gill.

“No. 2 singles player Jillian Hurley had a great week, going 6-1.” Rubino said. “She played exceptionally well; she was slow on first day and then won six in a row.”

Hurley was named one of Saint Mary’s athletes of the week, an honor Rubino said is well deserved.

Overall, the Belles were pleased with their first week of competition.

“Over spring break, it became apparent that have really good chemistry as a team, which is going to be an advantage when it comes time to pull together some big wins,” Gebert said. “I hope that we can stay competitive as our season starts in hopes of bringing home a title.”  

Looking ahead to the start of MIAA competition on March 18, Rubino said his team is well prepared.

“This week was good prep for the MIAA in terms that we saw teams that were a lot better than MIAA teams, such as Grand Valley and Wayne State, St. Scholastica is comparable to our team and others in the MIAA, and there were some weaker teams,” Rubino said. “This was a good stepping stone for us as we get into the MIAA matches next week.”