Bertrand leads as GVSU springs into 2-0 start

Lucas Rains

It’s always nice to start the season off on a winning note, and the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team did exactly that over the weekend.

The GVSU men rolled through the competition in their first action of the spring campaign, giving them an early 2-0 record on the season.

The Lakers defeated Davenport University on Friday 8-1 at the MVP Sports Club and followed it up with a sweep of Cornerstone University 9-0 at the Ramblewood Health Club.

Men’s tennis coach John Black said he was happy to start the year with a pair of victories over good competition. Davenport came in as the No. 24 team in the NAIA.

“We got a great start to the season,” Black said. “Davenport is a very tough team and we came out, played very solid for our first match of the year, and came out on top.”

Junior Francis Bertrand and senior Andrew Darrell swept their matches on the weekend. Bertrand won his singles match 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-1) against Davenport. He also paired up with Billy Heckman in doubles to win 9-8 (8-1). Against Cornerstone, Bertrand won 6-1, 6-0 in singles and again in the doubles 8-3 with Heckman.

“The Davenport win was very important,” Bertrand said. “They just came off a close match against Northwood, which is our biggest rival in the GLIAC. I’m proud of the way the team played this weekend.”

Darrell defeated his Davenport opponent 6-3, 6-4 and his Cornerstone opponent 6-1, 6-1.

Bertrand and Darrell both moved to 7-5 early in the 2014 campaign.

“I felt the team’s performance this weekend was very strong,” Darrell said. “Everyone played with a lot of passion. Strong doubles chemistry led to the two victories.

“Beating Davenport sends a huge statement. It’s validation for what we have done thus far. But we have to realize it’s only the beginning.”

Heckman, freshman Jack Heiniger and sophomore Andrew Bole notched wins against Davenport in singles action. In doubles, Heiniger and junior Quinn Sylow won 8-3, while Darrell and senior Ben Esh-Nauta won 8-5.

Against Cornerstone, Heckman, Heiniger, Sylow and sophomore Michael Kaye won their singles matches. The doubles teams also swept Cornerstone.

“There are quite a few things we can work on in practice to get even better,” Black said. “But for the first weekend, I was very happy with the way we competed.

“We can work a lot in the doubles. Serve percentage, continuing to work on movement, execution and keeping the intensity high are some things we can improve on.”

Bertrand said the team has set its goals high to compete in the GLIAC before hopefully making it to the NCAA tournament.

“This year everybody wants to win,” Bertrand said. “So far, I think our chances are really good.”

The team will return to action in the Grand Rapids City Tournament on Friday and Saturday.