Tennis teams aim for experience in Orlando

By Lucas Rains | 2/26/14 7:17pm

GVL / Hannah Mico. Senior Lexi Rice focuses hard on returning a volley at Saturday morning's match against Wayne State University; Rice was playing doubles with her partner Carola Orna (junior).

Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, spring sports have officially begun.

Frigid temperatures and a thick layer of snow and ice have made it difficult for teams to get outside, but the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s tennis teams won’t have to worry about that when they escape the winter weather for their spring break trip to Orlando, Fla.

The Laker men are scheduled to face off against Cedarville University, the University of St. Francis (Ill.), Trine University, Niagara University, Coe College and Montana State University-Billings.

The women will play St. Francis, Trine, Nova Southeastern University, Coe, Evangel University, Montana State-Billings and Aquinas College.

“It’s great just to get away from the snow and play outdoor tennis,” GVSU head coach John Black said. “Just to get away from the cold is really nice, and we’ll face a lot of strong competition while we’re down there.”

The Laker men are off to a 4-1 start so far this spring after a 2-1 Ohio road trip, which ended Sunday. The women’s team, on the other hand, is yet to play in 2014.

Junior Leah Dancz said she and her teammates are eager to get started.

“We’re looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with matches,” Dancz said. “We’re not really looking for improvement down there as much as we are just looking to get back into the competitive mindset.

“A free trip to Orlando is obviously an awesome perk of being on the team. Not only is it a fun vacation, but it is also an awesome team bonding experience.”

The team will compete against other schools for the first time since October, when it finished as the third-place team at the GLIAC Tournament.

The Laker men began conference play with wins against Ohio Dominican University and the University of Findlay, but they lost their first match of the season to Tiffin University.

“We’re looking to get a lot of competition,” Black said. “We need to continue to work on improving and playing better and smarter.”

They will be looking to bounce back while getting some much needed time away from the wintery Michigan temperatures.

Junior Francis Bertrand believes the team can prepare itself for the rest of the season while in Florida.

“The team is looking forward to getting some good tennis and some good matches,” Bertrand said. “We definitely need some victories down there.

“We want to improve our consistency, because to play outside is so much slower. Wins are not going to come easy.”

While both teams will be working hard and competing against other schools, there will still be time for some fun in Orlando. The Lakers plan to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

“This opportunity is great because it helps to strengthen our team bonds and it is a good way to get some relaxing time before the big matches,” Bertrand said. “Hopefully a little bit on the beach, but in the end, just a great time with the best team.”

Next up for the GVSU teams will be matches at the University of Northwestern Ohio and Indiana Wesleyan University on March 15.

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