GVSU to host USTA/ITA regional championships

GVL / Emily Frye    
Alexa Sweeney on April 17, 2016

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Alexa Sweeney on April 17, 2016

Mason Tronsor

The Grand Valley State women’s tennis team will host the 2016 USTA/ITA Regional Championship Tournament this Friday, Sept. 23.

The squad looks to rebound from its first loss of the season last weekend. The top five teams from the GLIAC conference will participate, including undefeated Northwood University.

“We can’t wait to face Northwood again,” said GVSU junior Allie Sweeney. “Their top five players will be here and it’s going to be a challenge.”

The Lakers suffered a 5-4 defeat on the Timberwolves’ courts. This will be the last time GVSU will see the current GLIAC leaders until possibly facing them in the GLIAC tournament in late October.

“The girls have already circled the GLIAC tournament on their calendars,” said GVSU coach John Black. “They want to face Northwood for a rematch.”

GVSU is 3-1 and tied with four for second place in the conference chasing the undefeated Timberwolves.

The regional tournament is focused more on individual seeding rather than team competition. However, the players competing for each school will still have the mindset of representing their school with pride.

“This tournament will affect the individual singles and doubles regional rankings,” Black said. “It will also give us a chance to see the top teams from our region. The initial team rankings use the ITA results particularly for the teams that do not play conference in the fall.”

The conferences that do not have conference matches in the fall are the GLVC (Great Lakes Valley Conference) and the GMAC (Great Midwest Athletic Conference). The teams from these conferences make up the region in which GVSU will compete in during the national tournament.

A familiar opponent from the GLVC that will be participating in the tournament this weekend is Drury University. The Lakers fell to the Panthers in the NCAA Regional Tournament last year in Springfield, Missouri.

GVSU will need to improve its doubles play if it wants to compete for a GLIAC title as well as a deep run at nationals. The team’s depth is present, now it’s up to the players to make it happen on the court.

“The main focus of the tournament is to continue to improve our doubles play,” Black said. “We will get tough match competition against the top teams in our region.”

The road does not get any easier for the Lakers after this tournament. The team’s next three GLIAC matches are against three of the four teams tied with the Lakers for second place (Tiffin, Hillsdale and Wayne State). To make life even more difficult, all three of those matches are on the road.

However, once GVSU makes it through the gauntlet, its next three matches are against three of the bottom teams in the GLIAC. All of this leads up to the rivalry match in Big Rapids, Michigan against the Bulldogs of Ferris State.

Last season, the Lakers tied the Timberwolves for the regular season GLIAC title. GVSU will need some help from its fellow competitors if they want to win an outright conference title.