GVSU women's tennis finishes second at GLIAC tournament
Lakers fall to Northwood 5-2 in championship match
The final round of the women’s tennis GLIAC tournament at the Greater Midland Tennis Center featured a heavyweight title bout between No. 1 seed Grand Valley State (13-2, 10-1 GLIAC) and No. 2 seed Northwood (13-1, 10-1 GLIAC).
Though the Lakers won the regular season matchup between the two teams, the Timberwolves came away with a 5-2 victory and were crowned GLIAC tournament champions. With the win, Northwood earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in spring 2016.
GVSU won the regular season conference title, so the two teams will share the honor of conference champions.
“We have to share with Northwood, but it’s better to share it than not get it,” said GVSU head coach John Black.
The Lakers won their first round matchup against No. 8 seed Walsh 5-0 on Friday, before defeating No. 4 seed Tiffin 5-2 in the second round on Saturday.
The Lakers fell behind early against Northwood and were at a 2-1 disadvantage after doubles play.
In singles, sophomore Alexa Sweeney pulled out a win at the No. 2 seed against Northwood’s Alisa Reshetnikova 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). However, losses at the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 seeds gave the Timberwolves the points they needed to get the victory.
In the tournament, only five points are needed to win. Abby Perkins' No. 1-seed match and Aimee Moccia’s No.-3 seed match both went unfinished.
“We played solid, Northwood just played a little bit better than us,” Black said. “Them getting the lead after doubles definitely didn’t help.”
The Lakers swept their opponents in doubles in the first two rounds of the tournament, but were unable to repeat against a much tougher Northwood squad.
The game was played indoors, and the Lakers feel this gave Northwood a slight advantage. GVSU played Northwood outdoors at home earlier in the season, and won that matchup 6-3.
“We’re definitely better as an outdoor team, not that we’re a bad indoor team, but I think we’re a little bit better outside. It seems like Northwood is a little bit better of an indoor team,” Black said.
The loss on Sunday gave the Lakers their second loss in four matches, after starting the season 11-0. The team didn't feel fatigued over the course of the season. The way the Lakers see it, they just caught two teams having a good day.
“I wouldn’t call it fatigue,” Sweeney said. “Today Northwood really stepped it up, and I think on any other day we’d have Ferris.”
The second-place finish marks back-to-back years GVSU has finished second at the conference tournament, after losing to Wayne State last season.
“It is obviously disappointing to come in second two years in a row, but I think that when you take a step back, it’s not like ‘oh we lost the match.’ We’re so young compared to all the other teams that coming in second is better than what was expected of us,” Sweeney said.
End of the year conference awards were handed out at the conclusion of the tournament. Black was named the GLIAC Coach of the Year after leading a young roster to a share of the GLIAC title.
Sweeney was named All-GLIAC First Team (12-1 in singles, 12-3 in doubles), Perkins was named to the Second Team (6-6 in singles, 12-2 in doubles) and Moccia received an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (10-3 in singles, 9-6 in doubles).
With the GLIAC tournament in the books, the fall season has concluded. Tennis won’t pick back up until the spring season, which will essentially be a new campaign for the Lakers. GVSU's fall-season finish will play into how highly it places in the seeding for the NCAA tournament.
GVSU finished a year where it took the GLIAC by surprise with a team consisting of only freshman and sophomores. Although the Lakers only captured a share of the conference title after being picked as the favorite, GVSU can say this season was a success.
“If someone had said ‘well, you guys are going to tie for conference with a team of freshmen and sophomores,’ I would’ve said, ‘well, I’ll believe it when I see it.’ We went out and did it, and it’s been a great fall season. I think we can continue to improve as a team and play even better,” Black said.