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SMC Tennis: Hope ends Belles’ winning streak at four games

Matt Unger | Sunday, April 10, 2011

While the Belles’ four-match winning streak came to a disappointing end this weekend, the team left with knowledge of what it will take to challenge top MIAA opponents in the upcoming conference tournament.

After a dominating performance against non-conference foe Bethel College (8-5, 3-0 MIAA) Friday, the Belles’ streak was snapped Saturday in Holland, Mich. against MIAA opponent Hope College. The Flying Dutch quickly rebounded from a 9-0 loss the previous night against Division II opponent Grand Valley State to hand the Belles (9-6, 2-2) a 7-2 defeat.

Saint Mary’s quickly fell behind in the doubles portion of the match, getting swept in three matches. Senior Jesssica Kosinski and freshman Mary Catherine Faller played in the closest doubles match of the three, but still lost 8-4.

“Hope was just more aggressive than we were [in doubles],” senior No. 1 singles player Jillian Hurley said. “We let them control the points and were constantly on defense.”

Following doubles play, the Belles were down 3-0 and faced the challenge of needing to win five of six matches to salvage a victory.

“It’s definitely disheartening and frustrating to enter singles play down 3-0,” Hurley said. “But the strength of our team lies in singles play, so we were a little optimistic.”

Nonetheless, the Belles could not overcome the deficit as their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players posted the team’s only victories of the match.

In a three-set match, Hurley avenged her loss last season to fellow senior Katherine Garcia with a come-from-behind victory. Hurley fell 6-2 in the first set but rebounded to win the final two sets 6-2, 6-3.

“[What decided the match] wasn’t so much skill level as it was confidence,” Hurley said. “After the first set, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and pulled it together.”

Meanwhile, Kosinski defeated Hope sophomore Leah LaBarge in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.

On Friday, the Belles defeated cross-town rival and NIAA opponent Bethel College 5-1, in a match in Mishawaka.

The Belles’ lone loss came in the No. 1 doubles match in which the freshman duo of Margaret Boden and Hurley fell to the Pilots’ Molly O’Grady and Whit Neuenschwander, 8-3.

Following doubles play, the Belles needed only three singles matches to win as Kosinski, Faller and senior Mary Therese Lee all easily dispatched their opponents in straight sets.

The Belles look to climb back above .500 in MIAA conference play Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Alma College.