Lakers close out fall season on high note

GVL / Emily Frye
Freshman Alex van de Steenhoven

GVL/Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Freshman Alex van de Steenhoven

Steven Garber

The members of the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team were eager for a chance to finally perform in front of their friends and family at the GVSU Invitational in Allendale, but those hopes were somewhat drowned with inches of rain on Friday.

The precipitation moved the event indoors at Ramblewood Tennis and Health Club in Grandville, Mich., and axed the singles competition from the agenda much to the dismay of the Lakers.

“It was a shame the rain stopped the singles tournament,” said freshman Alex van de Steenoven. “But the teams we played against were really good so it was good to get the two wins.”

Senior Francis Bertrand and sophomore Billy Heckman highlighted the tournament for GVSU by snagging a victory in the doubles “A” flight with a trio of wins, while seniors Andrew Bole and Bryan Hodges won the doubles “B” flight.

Senior Quinn Sylow paired with van de Steenoven to face off against Davenport University’s Haja Denise and Kevin Slagh in the “B” flight, but the Laker duo lost in the semifinals.

“We got down early,” van de Steenoven said. “We fought back, pushed it to a tiebreaker and we just got unlucky.”

Van de Steenoven and Sylow did, however, go on to take third place in the flight after beating the doubles team of Ferris State University.

Bole and Hodges needed just two match wins after their quarterfinal bye to win the doubles “B” flight, and did so with victories over duos from Calvin College and FSU.

Also competing in doubles quarterfinal matches was the sophomore duo of Jack Heiniger and Zach Phillips, which lost in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) in the doubles “A” flight.

Juniors Andrew Heuerman and Michael Kaye were ousted in their quarterfinal matchup in the doubles “B” flight 6-4, 7-5.

The doubles sweep on Friday, however, was a good representation of how the team performed in the four matches from the fall portion of its schedule.

“Everybody has some great wins,” Bertrand said. “We were dominant in pretty much every tournament or events we’ve been to. Hopefully we can maintain this for our season.”

In doubles play, cohesiveness is essential, and it’s what the Lakers featured this fall.

“We have a good team chemistry together,” Bertrand said. “We’re supporting each other every point. If someone makes a mistake, we just kind of go, ‘it’s alright, next point, let’s get that.’”

The squad seems to have a competitive edge across the depth chart from the three senior captains (Bertrand, Sylow and Hodges) on down to the freshman (van de Steenoven).

“Our goal is to win the conference this year,” Bertrand said. “I think we have a better team than we ever had before. So I think this year is the year we’ve got to win it.

“Our expectations are really high now because we had such a good start. We want nothing less than winning conference…We’re going to work as hard as we can to achieve that goal.”

That edge may help GVSU reach its goal of a conference crown when it resumes playing in the spring. Going forward, with the completion of the short fall schedule, the Lakers are now in a period of rest and preparation.

Despite missing an opportunity to compete and grow during singles matches this weekend, at least they closed the chapter of the fall season on a high note.