GVSU women’s tennis remains unbeaten

Senior Chelsea Johnston returns the tennis ball during Sundays match

Andrew Mills

Senior Chelsea Johnston returns the tennis ball during Sunday’s match

Derek Wolff

Grand Valley State University’s women’s tennis team has remained unbeaten through 11 matches after wins over Lake Erie College and Davenport University Sunday put the team at 11-0 for the season.

Led by senior captains and doubles tandem Chelsea Johnston and Darylann Trout, the Lakers have qualified for the 2010 International Tennis Association National Championships at the doubles ladder, which will take place on Thursday and Friday.

Sunday morning’s action saw the Lakers defeat Lake Erie College 9-0. The Lakers dealt visiting Davenport University the same fate in a 9-0 sweep later in the afternoon.

Freshman Niki Shipman led the way by winning both of her first singles matches, 6-0, 6-1, against Lake Erie and 7-6 (5-3), 6-1 against Davenport. Lake Erie forfeited fifth and sixth singles and third doubles due to illness and injuries.

The Lakers pushed passed Ashland University 5-4 Friday afternoon with doubles wins by Trout/Johnston, 8-3, and Niki Shipman/Lexi Rice, 8-4. Rice and Allison Fecko earned singles wins with Trout earning a crucial win in a three-set tiebreaker (6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5)) to ensure the victory and get to 8-0.

Saturday’s action saw the Lakers defeat Ohio Dominican University 7-2 behind a sweep in the doubles matches and 4 wins in singles. Johnston rebounded from her first singles loss on Friday by easily taking her No. 2 singles match, 6-1, 6-3 to improve to 7-1 on the year.

The senior expressed confidence and was excited looking forward to the ITA championships.

“We’re excited to go,” she said. “It will be cool to play with people we’re unfamiliar with, that we haven’t played before.”

GVSU head coach John Black said nationals will be a good way to measuring the team’s strength.

“We’ve never been there before, so it will be a great experience for us,” he said. “There are some good teams there that we’ve never played before, so it will really help us see where we are at in order to compete.”

Johnston cited improvements in her game and said she was feeling more comfortable with her volleys and returns this season, leading to her overwhelming success in both singles and doubles.

Black singled out doubles play when speaking about the critical improvements in this year’s team that have led to their success and unbeaten mark.

“All of the doubles are playing very well,” he said. “They are strong and deep enough to get to at least 2-1 in almost every match. There is confidence going forward from there, knowing that we only have win three out of the six singles matches to earn the victory, and any of our six can get us there.”

Black also resounded confidence in his No. 1 doubles pair of Johnston and Trout.

“First doubles is extremely tough to play,” he said. “So it’s a great plus knowing that we can get off to a good start with them (Johnston and Trout) and earn a point.”

Johnston said part of the reason why she and Trout have been so successful is in the fact that they’ve been playing together for so long.

“We know each other and our tendencies so well that we are very comfortable with each other and how we play,” she said. “We’ve known each other since freshman year.”

The Lakers will square off at home against Saginaw Valley State University on Oct. 19 before heading into the GLIAC Tournament, which starts on Oct. 22.

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