GVSU women’s tennis GLIAC tournament preview

GVL / Emily Frye
Abby Perkins

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Abby Perkins

Mason Tronsor

Throw records out the window, because its tournament time for the Grand Valley State women’s tennis team.

Last season, GVSU was the heavy favorite to win the GLIAC tournament after an 11-1 conference season and the No. 1 overall seeding in the tournament. This year has been a different story.

After starting the season on a high note, the Lakers entered unfamiliar territory after losing two of four matches in the middle of the season to Northwood (the eventual conference champions) and Tiffin (No. 2 seed in this year’s tournament). GVSU enters the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed after rattling of four straight victories to end the regular season.

“We want to go out there and get a good start in doubles,” said GVSU coach John Black. “In tournament play once the match is clinched, we stop. This is a good opportunity for rest.”

The tournament will begin Friday, Oct. 28 and continue on through the weekend until a champion is crowned Sunday, Oct. 30. The host court is located in Midland, Michigan, also the home of the regular season conference champion Timberwolves.

GVSU’s first-round draw pits them against the Warriors of Wayne State. The two schools faced off against each other in Detroit Oct. 2 and the Lakers prevailed with a 5-4 victory.

The Lakers cannot look too far ahead, but it might be hard not to because with a victory over the Warriors they will face either the Huskies of Michigan Tech, or a rematch against the Dragons.

“Every match is extremely important,” said GVSU’s Allie Sweeney. “Given that we had a close match with Wayne (State) this season, we are looking to dominate right off the bat. We aren’t looking too far ahead.”

GVSU players and coaches have circled the GLIAC tournament on their schedules ever since their close loss to the Timberwolves. Now, they return to the courts where there GLIAC regular season title hopes slipped away.

“We definitely want to see both those teams again,” said GVSU’s Abby Perkins. “There are a lot of good teams and players in the GLIAC, but we feel like on any given day when we play our best tennis we can beat anybody.”

The Lakers would only see the Timberwolves in the championship match, that is if the regular season champs can defeat Hillsdale and the winner of Ferris State against Saginaw Valley State. It would be a rematch, not just from this year’s match, but last year’s GLIAC tournament title match.

GVSU is not just preparing for the opponents they play, but the courts they will play on too.

“The first time we played Wayne (State) was on their indoor courts, which were a rubberized surface that plays very different from hard courts,” Black said. “We are looking forward to playing them on hard courts.”

The GLIAC tournament is the final series of matches for the 2016 fall season for GVSU. Once this tournament is over, the Lakers will go into a hiatus before the spring season. This means they have nothing to lose and everything to play for.

“We want to play tough until the very last point,” Sweeney said. “As a team, we get better the further into the season we play, so this should be no different.”