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SMC Tennis: Underclassmen look to step up for young Belles

Isaac Lorton | Thursday, February 16, 2012

After graduating a remarkable five seniors out of six singles players last season, the Belles will begin the 2012 season hoping to build on last season’s 11-6 record — but with a new group of athletes.

The Saint Mary’s squad will be made up of entirely freshmen and sophomores this season.

“Replacing the seniors overnight will definitely be hard to do,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “This young team though, has a lot of talent and I think the team is full of solid competitors.”

There is hope to build upon the success attained last season, but Campbell is not setting any specific goals for this season until he sees the girls play in matches.

“Right now, we are not looking to set goals until we see them compete,” Campbell says. “Maybe after the first few matches, we will set season goals.”

Campbell saw the group of sophomores improve last season and believes they can help the freshmen, who will be competing at the college level for the first time. Campbell said the team spent the off-season working on speed and conditioning.

“This season we are going to want to improve our footwork and speed,” Campbell said. “This will contribute to our offense greatly.”

The strength of the Belles lies in their athletic ability and their doubles play, but Campbell wants his young team to not commit unforced errors and be precise.

“We have a lot of doubles savvy for a young team,” Campbell said. “I think this team as whole will come along well.”

For leadership, the Belles will look to the only player who held a top-six spot last season who was not a senior — sophomore Mary Catherine Fuller.

“She was the No. 3-seed last season and this year she’s going to be our No. 1,” Campbell said. “She really has raised her level and she’ll be one to look out for this season.”

The Belles first match will be at home against Case Western on Friday at 6 p.m.