Spring break serves as training tool for GVSU athletics

Adam Knorr

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Every year, thousands of college students flock to Florida for spring break to relax and enjoy the sun. The Grand Valley State University athletic teams will also be heading to Florida, only with a slightly different itinerary.

Taking a week off from any sport at the collegiate level can be devastating, but especially for sports such as tennis and baseball where timing means everything.

The tennis team will be playing in Orlando, while the baseball squad is penciled in for the RossMatt Invitational in central Florida.

The GVSU men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse and softball teams will also be headed south to train during spring break.

The trip will be the first time playing in the elements for the tennis team, an immensely different feel than playing indoors. Fortunately, the Lakers will get two days to practice acclimating to the outdoors. The environment is not the only area of focus for GVSU.

“Our doubles still need a lot of work,” said head coach John Black. “A lot of our doubles are guys playing with new partners, figuring out which shots work and which shots don’t.”

New partners and new players seem to be a central theme this season for the Lakers, as their roster showcases three freshmen and three sophomores, with just two returning starters.

The team’s youth doesn’t seem to worry junior co-captain Bryan Hodges.

“The guys we have are really mature,” Hodges said. “Francis (Bertrand) played Division I before he came here. I don’t think the age affects us. We’re setting our sights on the GLIAC title.”

Both Black and Hodges have reason to be confident in the team up to this point in the season, as the Lakers have had a solid start, sporting a 5-1 record in match play as they head into March.

Hodges, who has been to two previous spring break events for the tennis team, knows the trip can do far more than just hone tennis skills.

“This trip brings us together as a whole team,” Hodges said. “It’s great for bonding. We usually don’t get to do that in Michigan.”

What they have done in Michigan, however, is win matches. Hodges and the rest of the Laker lineup look to do the same in Florida.

While the tennis team hopes to win points in Orlando, the GVSU baseball team looks to be scoring runs only an hour away at the RussMatt Invitational.

The Lakers, who have yet to play a game this season, will get their first taste of live baseball this year.

GVSU is scheduled to play 10 games in a span of eight days, including games against multiple teams in their division. Despite the snow in Michigan, the Lakers know they can’t be cold come game time.

“We plan on coming out ready to play hard,” said head coach Jamie Detillion. “Grand Valley has a winning tradition that we want to continue. Our number one goal is showing up every single day. Results, accolades and winning will come.”

GVSU’s high expectations are not unfounded, as the team is coming off a 2012 GLIAC Tournament win. The team also is returning 11 starters.

“At this point, we’re just there to figure out positions and roles,” said freshman pitcher J.T. Kawaski. “We just want to compete.”
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