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SMC Tennis

Belles face tough conference test in Hope

| Thursday, February 26, 2015

After splitting the weekend with Ohio Northern and Wittenberg last weekend, the Belles are back in action this Saturday at conference foe Hope.

Earlier in the season, Belles coach Dale Campbell said he anticipated MIAA competition challenging Saint Mary’s (2-2), with Hope (0-1) being one of the toughest conference opponents the Belles are going to face.

“Hope … the defending No. 2 [in the conference], should be pretty tough this year,” Campbell said.

Hope struggled in its season opener Feb. 7 at Northern Illinois, dropping the match by a score of 6-1. Last year, however, the Flying Dutch boasted a record of 17-6 (7-1 MIAA) in the 2013-2014 season, with its lone conference loss coming at the hands of defending conference champion Kalamazoo.

Saint Mary’s is led in singles play by seniors Shannon Elliott and Jackie Kjolhede and freshman Maddie Minaudo, who all racked up dominating 6-0, 6-0 victories against Wittenberg at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 singles, respectively. In addition, junior Andrea Fetters and senior Kayle Sexton managed close singles victories in the No. 1 and No. 2 slots.

The Belles’ singles attack will have to counter Hope sophomore Kate Mader, who earned the Flying Dutch’s lone victory at Northern Illinois in the No. 6 singles slot. Mader was also honored as MIAA player of the week of Feb. 8 following her win.

At doubles, Sexton and sophomore Sam Setterblad led the way with an 8-2 victory at No. 1 doubles over Wittenberg. On the other side, Hope has struggled in its limited doubles competition this season. At Northern Illinois, the No. 1 team of sophomore Nancy Bedna and senior Carli Capestrany dropped a 6-1 decision.

Hope’s three-week hiatus from competition could be advantageous for the Belles, who have played two matches, including the decisive Wittenberg victory, since their Feb. 7 loss to Aquinas.

The Belles commence MIAA action this Saturday against Hope at Etheridge Tennis Complex in Holland, Michigan. Matches are slated to begin at 1 p.m.

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