GVSU splits GLIAC weekend series

GVL / Emily Frye
Junior Abby Perkins hits the serve during a spring match on April 17, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Junior Abby Perkins hits the serve during a spring match on April 17, 2016.

Mason Tronsor

After a red-hot start to the season, the Grand Valley State women’s tennis team faced reality this past weekend after defeating archrival Saginaw Valley State 6-3, but then fell to Northwood 5-4. Both games were away from Allendale as the team made its first road trip of the season.

“It’s a short road trip, so it was fine,” said GVSU coach John Black. “Saginaw and Northwood are two and a half hours away. It was a good opportunity to just do some team bonding. Short trips are always good to start with.”

GVSU is now 3-1 on the season and will compete in the USTA/ITA Regional Championship tournament this upcoming weekend, Sept. 23-25.

After winning the first two matches of the season with ease, the Lakers faced plenty of adversity and competition. Heading into Saturday’s match against the Cardinals, the Lakers were focused on the task at hand rather than looking forward to Sunday’s match against the co-defending regular season champions.

“There are a lot players on Saginaw’s team that are friends and rivals with some of the girls on our team,” Black said. “So it wasn’t really hard to get pumped up for a match like that.”

The Lakers took control early on at the Cardinals’ home court. They won two out of the three doubles matches heading into the singles competition. From there, the start wasn’t as strong. No. 1 seed Madison Ballard lost her match, evening the overall match score. However, No. 2 seed Allie Sweeney and No. 3 seed Abby Perkins won their respective matches and gave control back to the Lakers who went on to secure the overall team victory.

“Saginaw is definitely an improving team,” Perkins said. “We knew we couldn’t go in there and take them lightly.”

GVSU moved on to face the team who at the time was ranked five spots below them. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves two out of three matches last year. However, the one match they lost was the GLIAC Tournament Championship.

Early on in the match, the Timberwolves took control. They won two out of three doubles matches. The Lakers knew they had work to do and fought back with a vengeance.

Ballard, playing as the No. 1 seed, rebounded from her previous match loss and defeated the Timberwolves No. 1 seed Carol Arnez-Mercado. This evened the overall match score as the Lakers were trying to do what the Cardinals could not accomplish against them.

After the teams were officially tied, it all came down to the final five singles matches. GVSU needed to win at least four of the total six singles matches. They only won three and the Timberwolves ended up on top in the end.

The loss does not mean the Lakers are done. Last season, the team dropped one GLIAC match and still tied for the regular season title.

“I think our biggest issue to work on is cutting out unforced errors that we make on the court,” Perkins said. “We just need to stay in points a little bit longer. But we are very even with them (Northwood). It could have gone wither way today.”