GVSU falters in tough match against Western Michigan

Josh Peick

The Grand Valley State men’s tennis team jumped up a division to face off against Division I opponent Western Michigan. The Broncos won the match 7-0, but the Lakers (6-4) were competitive across the board.

The match against WMU marks the end of a tough out-of-conference stretch for GVSU. The Lakers faced off against two teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation during the team’s spring break trip to Florida, and squared off against a ranked Division I opponent in the Broncos on March 15.

The Broncos, ranked 67th in Division I, have had a successful campaign early in 2016. WMU recently upset a strong Michigan State team with a commanding 5-2 victory.

“It’s a good experience to play tough competition,” said GVSU head coach John Black. “I felt we could be competitive with them, push them and maybe pick up a couple of match wins.”

The Lakers were swept in singles competition, but a few of the matches were close. The No. 6 singles match went to a third-set tiebreaker. After losing the first set 6-1, freshman Nicholas Urban flipped the script and won the second set 6-1. Urban fought to give the Lakers a singles victory but was edged out in the third-set tiebreaker 11-9.

The Lakers were forced to adjust to a Division I format, which differs from the Division II format GVSU usually plays. In Division I, there is no ad scoring, which means that when the game reaches deuce, the next point is a sudden death point to determine the game.

The doubles format is also different in Division I play. A team needs to win two out of three doubles matches to receive a point, unlike Division II play, in which each match results in a point toward the total score.

The Lakers’ duo of Jack Heiniger and Sebastien Lescoulie won the No. 2 doubles match 6-4. This combination has been on fire in recent weeks, winning five of its last six matches.

“They played two bigger-hitting guys and they got their serves back, took control of the net and pulled out a very close match,” Black said.

The doubles victory did not factor into the total score since WMU won the other two matches 6-3 and 6-2.

“They were very strong competition, but it definitely pointed out some things we need to work on,” Black said. “I thought we played pretty solid as a team.”

Although GVSU was unable to come away with a victory, the team is competing with top-ranked teams. The Lakers are playing at a high level, which is a good sign with conference play just around the corner.

“I think we’ll do pretty good in conference this year,” Heiniger said. “Most of our team is playing good and we had a good spring break.”

The Lakers will travel to Hillsdale on March 19 to take on the Chargers (4-2) for the first GLIAC action of the year. GVSU will then travel to Findlay the following day to take on the Oilers (6-5).