Lakers dominate competition in weekend games
If the Grand Valley State University women’s tennis team felt any pressure to live up to its highest-ever national ranking, they didn’t show it.
The No. 15 Lakers began the 2011 season by dominating Bellarmine University on the road Friday, coming away with an 8-1 win against the Knights. The team followed up on Saturday with the University of Indianapolis, winning six singles matches as well as three doubles to sweep the competition, bringing the team’s weekend win total to a convincing 15 wins in 16 matches against Indianapolis and Bellarmine.
The GVSU women traveled with the men’s team to Indianapolis to play three games in three days. The men beat Indianapolis 6-3 on Saturday. Both teams competed on Sunday, but scores were not available at press time.
Seniors Chelsea Johnston and Darylann Trout are ranked No. 2 in the Midwest region and No. 12 nationally as a doubles team. The pair took home two victories defeating Indianapolis 8-5 and following up with an 8-3 win over Bellarmine.
Johnston said the team knows that to keep its national ranking, it will need to play its best during each match and into the national tournament at the end of the season.
“It’s really exciting, but it also just means that we have to go out there and perform every single time we step on the court to ensure that we maintain that ranking,” Johnston said. “We’d like to host nationals in May – that’d be a lot of fun. We did that one year so it would be great to do it again and make it as far as we can in the NCAA tournament.”
The tight-knit team is led by a small group of seniors that Johnston said work hard to be leaders for the younger players as the season progresses.
“We’re pretty much together on and off the court,” she said. “It’s fun to see them starting out on the team, and all the seniors work together that we keep the rest of the team in line so we can win.”
Senior Jackie Shipman said that she and the rest of the seniors on the team are excited to have achieved their ranking going into their final season.
“I thought it was awesome; I was so glad to be a part of it because it’s our last year,” she said. “I think we set a good example of putting the team first and doing what’s best for the team before yourself, and all the girls kind of look out for one another.”
Shipman added that the team is looking forward to getting to test themselves against tough competition and beat them consistently.
“I have a lot of confidence in everyone,” said Shipman. “I think that’s how everyone feels when they walk out on the court; everyone pretty much knows how to do their job and normally does it pretty efficiently. There’s pressure, but there’s also a confidence there.”
The GVSU women will compete next in Illinois on Feb. 18 against Lewis University. The men are in action this weekend at the Grand Rapids City Tournament, which starts on Friday at 4 p.m.