Lakers get back on track with five straight wins

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills
Senior Philipp Claus returns the ball during a match

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills Senior Philipp Claus returns the ball during a match

Jon Adamy

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After losing four out of five matches during its spring break trip to Orlando, the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team came back with a vengeance to start conference play undefeated, recording five straight victories in three days.

The team started the tennis marathon on Thursday afternoon by defeating Hope College 8-1 and besting Calvin College 9-0 later that night. On Friday, the team beat Michigan Technological University 7-2 and then completed the five-match sweep with wins on Saturday over Lake Superior State University and Aquinas College.

GVSU head coach John Black said the team is confident after its strong start back from the break. He said his team’s trip to Orlando and the nationally ranked teams it faced helped prepare it for its recent matches.

“This was a tough weekend for us to play five matches. That’s a lot of tennis,” Black said. “To me, it really seemed like when we got in tough matches, we were ready for them just because we played so many tough matches leading up to this point.”

The weekend’s matches culminated in a marathon match when junior Benny Delgado-Rochas defeated Kyle Masteller of Aquinas to secure both an individual win and a team victory over the Saints. The match lasted almost three hours – twice as long as a typical college match, Black said. Delgado-Rochas, going 6-0, 5-7 and finally 6-3, won in three sets.

Delgado-Rochas said the competition was intense and he was cramping during the final match. But the win made him feel good going into the rest of the season.

“I individually didn’t play a lot of matches in the fall. I was injured a little bit,” Delgado-Rochas said. “The more matches I played, the more confidence I felt, and now everything is starting to get back into me again, and I’m feeling great right now.”

Senior tennis player Philipp Claus said with the comeback win over Aquinas and Delgado-Rochas’ performance, the team is finally coming together after the season’s difficult start.

“We had a tough spring break. We lost a lot of matches there, but I think the team really pulled it together today,” Claus said. “I think our confidence is pretty good. I mean, we realized that a lot of our matches we played against highly ranked schools, and we knew that we were good even though we lost a lot of matches, and now we actually know we can show that we are not bad.”

The team still has plenty of good competition before April’s GLIAC tournament, but for now the five-straight wins have the Lakers feeling like they are back on track.

“It seems like it was a good warm up, but now we’re turning over to the most important matches, the conference matches, and now we’re winning. So it’s great,” Delgado-Rochas said.

The team will next compete on March 25 when it takes on the University of Findlay and Davenport University at the Riverview Athletic Club in Grand Rapids.

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