Women’s tennis: GVSU downs MTU, LSSU

GVL / Emily Frye
Freshman Abby Perkins

GVL / Emily Frye Freshman Abby Perkins

Steven Garber

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A mere four months after losing at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament in May, the Grand Valley State University women’s tennis team returned to the courts looking like a much-improved team.

GVSU opened the season with two wins against GLIAC opponents over the weekend with a 7-2 victory over Michigan Tech University on Saturday and a 9-0 sweep against Lake Superior State University on Sunday.

The opening weekend was an impressive start to the season – a season that will showcase experienced veterans complemented with a fresh batch of new Lakers.

“They came in with the right mindset – our freshmen didn’t play like college freshmen,” coach John Black said. “They were loose and relaxed.”

There were no signs of rust or nervousness. Black complimented his team for their poised play, especially the freshmen who “played very well” over the two days.

Sunday, senior Leah Dancz rebounded from her hard-fought losses on Saturday by winning her No. 1 individual flight. She also won No. 1 doubles while partnering with classmate Kali Phillips.

“It felt good going into the rest of the season,” said Dancz, one of the six seniors returning to the squad.

Another senior, Phillips, won both of her matches in the No. 2 spot over the two-day span. Also picking up individual victories against LSSU were freshmen Rachel Sumner, Alexa Sweeney, Abby Perkins and senior Kelly Trapp.

Black is still working out a way to incorporate the new talent while building off of his veteran foundation, but a competitive, top-to-bottom lineup is his key to a successful campaign this season.

“We’re definitely a strong team,” Sweeney said. “Our lineup on any given day could beat each other because there is so much depth on the team.”

Dancz said the divide in experience at the college level doesn’t impact the team much, as they are all here because they are prime talents. She and Trapp agreed that the freshmen on the team have really meshed with the senior group.

The young players will have to learn the Lakers’ way of doing things from the key seniors like Dancz, Phillips and Kelly Trapp, who ran away with 6-0, 6-0 victories against Michigan Tech and against LSSU the next day.

“They have been very interested in learning,” Trapp said of the freshmen.

Freshmen like Abby Perkins – who won both of her matches 6-0, 6-0 over the weekend – said she recognizes how valuable having that experience is with the six seniors who she says are “great examples on how to be leaders.”

Top-to-bottom, the Lakers hope they can improve upon their 21-8 record last season, which garnered a fourth place finish in the conference standings but was well behind the leader Northwood University (22-1).

“The bottom of the lineup is where we really need those wins,” Dancz said.

And with young, tenacious talent behind the senior leadership, it certainly seems the program is on the right path to continue its success.

The team returns to action on Sept. 13 when the Lakers take on rival Saginaw Valley State University.