SMC to host spring opener
Alex Carson | Thursday, February 13, 2014
Saint Mary’s will look to start its spring season on the right foot Friday when it hosts Ohio Northern at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
The Belles (1-0) return six players from last year’s team that finished tied for fourth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, but missed out on a conference tournament spot after losing the tiebreaker for the tournament’s fourth and final spot to Calvin.
“[This year], we would like to be in the top three of our conference at the end of the season,” Belles head coach Dale Campbell said. “Once we get in the [conference] tournament, we’ll take it from there.”
Junior Jackie Kjolhede went 13-3 in singles matches last year to lead the Belles, while the doubles tandem of junior Kayle Sexton and senior Mary Catherine Faller posted 11 wins on the year. Returning with Kjolhede, Sexton and Faller are juniors Audrey Kiefer and Shannon Elliot and sophomore Margaret Faller.
“We have a very deep team with a lot of players close in position, which could require some changing during the season,” Campbell said. “All of [our returning players] will be in the main lineup.”
The Belles will also look for contributions from three new faces in the 2014 season. Sophomore Andrea Fetters and freshmen Kaity Venters and Samantha Setterblad all factor into Campbell’s plans.
“Fetters will play this week at the No. 6 position, and Setterblad will start at No. 3 doubles this week,” Campbell said. “Venters will contribute and is working hard to get into the main lineup. The first-year players all have strengths that will push the veterans.”
The Belles will test their lineup against Ohio Northern (1-1), a team coming off a 2013 season in which it recorded 27 wins and a perfect 9-0 record in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Polar Bears won a conference title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. More recently, Ohio Northern is coming off a loss at Kalamazoo on Saturday. Campbell said he wanted to see his team come out and be assertive Friday to open the season.
“In the first match, I want us to come out assertive in doubles and just show how hungry we are to compete,” Campbell said. “Perseverance and expecting to win are a few qualities we want to see and just players competing point by point. We have enough experience to get off to a solid start.”
It might just be the first game of the season, but Campbell said he looks at tomorrow’s contest as an opportunity to set a high standard from the beginning.
“We want to set a high standard to begin with,” Campbell said. “There’s never a time to play without a purpose to play our best.”
The Belles host the Polar Bears tomorrow at the Eck Tennis Pavilion on the campus of Notre Dame, with the opening serve set for 6:30 p.m.
Contact Alex Carson at [email protected]