W. tennis drops first-round regional match to Northwood

GVL / Eric Coulter
Freshman Kelly Trapp awaits a serve during a meet.

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Freshman Kelly Trapp awaits a serve during a meet.

Melanie Huhn

It came down to one match and one point for the Grand Valley State University women’s tennis team during its opening round match at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional on Monday.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, that one point went to their opponent — No. 16 Northwood.

In their 11th-straight appearance at the regional, the No. 23 Lakers fell to the Timberwolves, 5-4, ending their season with a 23-9 record and fourth-place finish in the region.

Head coach John Black described the loss as the “story of the season” with the ladies falling behind 2-1 after doubles play. Sophomores Niki Shipman and Lexi Rice, picked up the only doubles
win with an 8-2 victory in the No. 3 spot.

“I thought we played solid and the match came down to the end with us being a point or two short,” Black said. “We had a lot of opportunity in the matches and we had some good wins, but we just couldn’t get that fifth point.”

This wasn’t a new matchup for the Lakers, as they fell to Northwood in the GLIAC Championships in October. Heading into the match, the Lakers felt confident in their abilities to control the court, but a few last minute line-up changes from their opponents threw them off.

“Northwood shifted their lineup and we thought it was going to be to our advantage, but in reality they were just as hard, if not a harder team,” said sophomore Leah Dancz. “We really weren’t playing up to our potential and that has happened a lot this semester.”

After falling behind early, it was up to the singles to pull out the win for the Lakers.

Junior Allison Fecko was able to help the Lakers get back into the match with her win, 6-3, 6-3, from the No. 6 spot. Sophomore Anne Marie Morin’s 6-3, 6-4 victory from the No.5 spot tied the match at 3-3.

Top singles player, senior Tara Hayes, fell 6-3 and 7-5 leaving it to Rice in the No. 4 singles matchup to determine who would advance in the regional. The match went three sets, but the victory went to Northwood in the end, 6-4, 3-6 and 6-4.

“The match could have gone either way, that’s how close it was,” said senior Alyssa Lucas. “When it came down to it, both girls played extremely well, but we just couldn’t catch a break.”

Overall, the Lakers we unhappy with their early departure from the tournament, but mixed emotions helped the Lakers take a look at what they have learned this season.

“In the end, we’re happy to have made the tournament,” Lucas said. It’s about learning what has happened this season and building off of it for next year.”

With the team only losing two of its top players in Hayes and Lucas, they plan on focusing more on the team aspect next year.

Tennis is an individual sport, but they have learned that the players on the court aren’t the only aspect of the game.

“The people off the court are just as important,” Dancz said. “To have our teammates being there and supporting you through every match, we need that as our motivation. We are excited for next year, where we will once again, have great potential for another successful season.”

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