Lakers show promise in doubles tourney

After opening the spring campaign 2-0 last weekend, the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team played in the West Michigan Indoor Doubles Tournament against some of the area’s best schools.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at Orchard Hills in Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday, but was changed to a one-day event at DeWitt Tennis Center in Holland.

GVSU, Aquinas College, Davenport University, Calvin College, Hope College and Cornerstone University all competed in doubles action.

The Laker men had three pairs compete on Friday, two of which advanced to the finals.

“We did OK,” head coach John Black said. “It was a flighted tournament, but because of the number of teams, some of our guys ended up playing in a higher flight than they normally play at.”

The Lakers still managed to finish well despite these challenges.

Freshman Billy Heckman and junior Francis Bertrand reached the semifinals in their championship flight after winning 8-2 and 9-7 in the quarterfinals. The duo would eventually fall to the Aquinas pair 8-4.

“Two out of our three flights made the finals,” Heckman said. “There’s still definitely room for improvement; getting adjusted to a couple easy fixes.”

Seniors Ben Esh-Nauta and Andrew Darrell also reached the semifinals in their flight after 8-2 and 8-4 wins. They faced off against Davenport’s varsity flight, but came up short 8-4.

“We were all playing pretty well,” Esh-Nauta said. “I don’t think we’ve reached our top level yet, but we are getting there.”

The final GVSU pair, sophomores Andrew Heuerman and Michael Kaye, won its opening round match against Davenport 8-5, but lost to Hope in the quarterfinals 8-4.

“We did pretty good (on Friday),” Black said. “There’s still quite a bit we need to work on. We need to keep improving and keep moving forward.

“It was good because we got a lot of doubles play this weekend and we were able to work on a few things.”

The team will now shift its focus to conference play, which starts next weekend.

“Everyone in our conference is going to be a touch match,” Black said. “When we have three tough matches in a row, we need to be mentally prepared and can’t take anyone lightly.”

The Laker men seem to have set high goals, and working hard in between matches is the only way they can achieve them.

“Our only focus is wining,” Esh-Nauta said. “That’s really the goal for the season, too. (A conference championship) would be the best possible outcome.”

GVSU is set to play in three conference matches this weekend in Ohio, beginning with Ohio Dominican University on Friday, followed by the University of Findlay on Saturday a matchup with Tiffin University on Sunday.

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