GVSU tennis starts GLIAC play undefeated

GVL/Bo Anderson

Quinn Sylow

Bo Anderson

GVL/Bo Anderson Quinn Sylow

Jay Bushen

As far as starts go, the Grand Valley State University men’s tennis team couldn’t have asked for a better one.

GVSU is undefeated in conference play so far in 2013, picking up three victories in as many days last week.

GVSU (3-0, 5-1) took care of business on Thursday with an 8-1 victory over Tiffin University, followed by a 6-3 win over Ohio Dominican University on Friday before defeating the University of Findlay 8-1 on Saturday.

Head coach John Black said he hopes his young Lakers will earn their respect in the competitive GLIAC.

“Our conference will be very tough,” Black said. “We’re a young team, but everyone has been working hard and making progress. We’ve managed to mesh quite well without any seniors on our roster.”

The Lakers were dominant in singles play, as the No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 spots were undefeated in the three-game span.

In the No. 1 spot, sophomore Francis Bertrand was solid, defeating Tiffin’s Max Waeters 6-1, 6-2 and Findlay’s Djordje Ljubinkovic 6-2, 6-2. His only loss came at the hands of Ohio Dominican’s Walid Gtari, 2-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3.

“Everyone played well,” Bertrand said. “We know we need to be at our best in (GLIAC) matches, and I am fully confident in our team’s ability to win the conference this year.”

The transfer from Division I Stony Brook also put together a trio of victories in doubles play with his teammate Bryan Hodges, a junior.

The duo was on the same page in each of their matches in No. 1 spot, defeating Tiffin 8-6, Ohio Dominican 8-2 and Findlay 8-4.

“Communication is very important in doubles, and we know how to talk to each other on the court,” Bertrand said. “The energy level we’ve had together is amazing.”

Hodges, who has won 10 straight matches, represented the No. 3 spot for the team in singles play. After defeating Tiffin’s Kyle Johnson 6-3, 6-4, he notched a victory over Ohio Dominican’s Tyler Johnston 6-1, 7-5 before besting Findlay’s John Kidd 6-0, 6-1.

Hodges said he attributes much of his success this season to his doubles partner.

“He’s an excellent player,” Hodges said. “Francis is one of my best friends and we have great chemistry on the court. He has completely raised my level of play.”

GVSU junior Andrew Darrell was also a key performer in the team’s three victories. Darrell was 3-0 in the No. 2 spot of singles play and 3-0 in the No. 2 spot of doubles play along with partner Quinn Sylow, a sophomore.

Black said the team still needs to improve despite its No. 7 regional ranking.

“Our play was solid, but there’s room for improvement,” Black said. “I want to see continued progression—especially in doubles competition.”
The Lakers will compete against six teams in a five-day span during their spring break trip to Orlando, Fla.