Women’s tennis seeks to return ‘undefeated and prepared’ after break

GVL Archive
Alyssa Lucas

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Alyssa Lucas

Melanie Huhn

After a four-month break between its fall and spring seasons, the Grand Valley State University women’s tennis team hopes to gain momentum and push for an undefeated season while preparing for the first away matches of the resumed season at the University of Indianapolis on Feb. 24.

The Lakers finished out the fall season ranked second in the Midwest regional team poll with a winning record of 13-3, but fell to first place Northwood University, 5-4, at the GLIAC championship match back in October.

Trying to get back in to the swing of things, the team has been meeting four days a week to practice at Ramblewood Racquet Club in Grandville, Mich., and meeting for separate conditioning days that have included footwork and double drills.

“It’s a negative when it comes to our level of play with all winter break off,” said senior Tara Hayes. “With our first match not until the end of February, it’s really hard to get back into it. We are focusing on our double play so we can win three points right off the bat, leaving our singles players less stressed during their matches.”

Before break, the ITA National Team rankings announced that the Lakers have earned No. 25 spot on the national ranking list. The Midwest regional poll also ranked senior Hayes (No. 16), freshman Leah Dancz (No. 19) and sophomore Niki Shipman (No. 15) in the top 20 singles.

Even with a lull period during break, the Lakers have found a way to come together during workouts and team activities outside of practice helping them bond.

“The two months has brought us together as more of a team which will help us in future matches,” Dancz said. “Whether we play our best or lose we will be learning from each match giving us experience we will need when we qualify for nationals.”

The second part of the season doesn’t start off lightly for the Lakers. They’ll open on the road at Drury University in Indianapolis later this month.

“The Drury match is extremely important to us,” said Alyssa Lucas, the team’s No. 1 doubles player. “This match would decide if we get to host nationals or not. No one wants to drive 14 hours to try and qualify for nationals when it could be here.”

While hosting nationals is on the line, the Lakers are working hard not to start their second season off like their first.

“We started off slow with a couple of rough matches and a loss against Wayne State,” Lucas said. “Which was very unlucky and could have gone either way. We want to work that much harder to come out of the gate winning matches.”

The team will be back on the court this weekend for a scrimmage against Grand Rapids Community College men’s team this Saturday at Ramblewood.

“Undefeated and prepared would be the perfect start to the second season,” Hayes said.

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