GVSU men’s tennis wins two, drops one in three-game road trip

GVL / Emily Frye      
Zach Phillips on Friday Feb. 3, 2017.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Zach Phillips on Friday Feb. 3, 2017.

Robbie Triano

Having not played in the state of Michigan since February, the Grand Valley State men’s tennis team has become no stranger to long bus rides, hotels and adapting to other court conditions.

However, those road conditions didn’t wear out the No. 36 nationally ranked Lakers as they won two of their three games against regionally ranked teams this weekend.

The Lakers won 9-0 against Bellarmine in Louisville, Kentucky Thursday, March 23 and 5-4 against No. 34-ranked Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana Friday, March 24. But No. 16 ranked Indianapolis was too much for GVSU as they lost 6-3 Saturday, March 25.

Although the Lakers didn’t complete the weekend sweep, senior Zach Phillips said this weekend was great preparation for upcoming GLIAC competition and rival Ferris State. Last year, FSU defeated GVSU in the GLIAC Championship.

“These last three matches against regionally ranked teams gave us an idea of what to expect from a Ferris team that’s on the same level as them,” Phillips said. “We know it’s going to be a battle (against Ferris State) and have to be mentally prepared for a long match.”

The Lakers opened their weekend on a high note as they dominated in their 9-0 victory over Bellarmine. In singles competition, the Lakers only dropped a combined three sets against the Knights.

Day two provided much more difficulty against a ranked Southern Indiana team, but the Lakers came out on top 5-4. The Lakers were only up 4-3 until No. 5 singles seed Jack Heiniger won his match (6-3, 6-4) to clinch the team victory.

Other GVSU singles wins came from No. 1 Sebastien Lescoulie (6-1, 1-0), No. 3 Jack Geissler (6-2, 6-3) and No. 6 Nicholas Urban (6-4, 6-0). The only doubles victory came from the No. 1 duo of Phillips and Alex vande Steenoven (8-2).

However, the Lakers didn’t finish the weekend undefeated as No. 16 ranked Indianapolis dropped the Lakers’ record to 12-5 after a 6-3 loss. The only Laker victories came from No. 5 singles Heiniger (6-3, 6-4), No. 6 singles Urban (7-6, 6-2) and the No. 2 doubles duo of Lescoulie/Heiniger (9-7).

Phillips believed that the Lakers played much better than what the score showed.

“We had a chance to win all three doubles matches but didn’t have what it took to pull it off. If we got those wins we had a good shot on winning the match,” Phillips said. “Indianapolis has a very solid top four singles players and three guys who are all ranked top 100 nationally.

“But if we end up seeing them again at nationals later in the year, I think we have a good chance of beating them.”

Although the road-heavy schedule has taken its toll on the Lakers fatigue wise, the team consensus is that these away matches have made this team stronger when it matters.

“After these trips, we realize that we are in much better shape and condition as a team,” Phillips said. “It’s definitely a challenge having to constantly play teams at their home courts day after day, but we make it a point to treat each match as its own.”

The Lakers will kick off a string of GLIAC matches starting with Michigan Tech Saturday, April 1 in Houghton, Mich. After that, the Lakers will take on Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Sunday, April 2.