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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

SMC Tennis: Belles improvement leads to solid performance, wins

If the Belles were looking for a win, improvement and solid play over the weekend, they got it. And then some.

Saint Mary's rolled through its slate of weekend matchups, losing just one match as it defeated Trine 9-0 Saturday and North Central 8-1 Sunday.

Saint Mary's (7-5, 1-1 MIAA) entered Saturday's match against the Thunder (3-7, 0-2) looking to rebound after a midweek loss to conference foe Albion. The Belles swept both the doubles and singles divisions, losing just 16 games on the way to a 9-0 finish.

Senior Jessica Kosinski dominated in doubles play with freshman Mary Catherine Faller, as the duo won 8-0 at the No. 3 doubles spot. Kosinski also earned a 6-0, 6-0 sweep at No. 2 singles.

According to Belles coach Dale Campbell, the winning result and the team's first conference victory was the most significant part of the weekend.

"It's always good to get a conference win — they're all-important," he said. "We did well in the doubles, and we took care of business."

Following its conference win, Saint Mary's faced North Central in a non-conference match-up Sunday, where the Belles continued their winning ways. Many teams come in overconfident after such a blowout, but Campbell felt his players showed the experience and poise to avoid that pitfall.

"I don't think it was a problem," he said. "Winning only boosts your confidence, so I think we really came ready on Sunday."

The Cardinals (10-4) were unable to handle the Belles' energy in a contest highlighted by its two senior captains, Franca Peluso and Jillian Hurley. Both Peluso and Hurley lost the first set of their singles matches, but rallied back to win in late tiebreakers. Peluso won 5-7, 6-0, 1-0 (10-2) at No. 5 singles, while Hurley claimed No. 1 singles 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 1-0 (12-10).

Campbell noticed definite improvement in Hurley's play, which helped her earn the win.

"[Hurley] is generally an offensive player, and she was able to win like that because she cut down on her mistakes," Campbell said.

While these two wins certainly bolstered their record and pointed them back in the right direction, the Belles may not be able to enjoy them for too long. Perennial MIAA contender Olivet swings into South Bend Wednesday in a rematch of last year's MIAA playoffs.

"It's good to get these two wins," Campbell said. "But now we've got a big conference match with Olivet on Wednesday to focus on."