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Singles record doesn't dim shining career
By Chaz Amidon

Marcus ZeilstraOn paper, Marcus Zeilstra's fourth and final year as a member of the men's tennis team wasn't his best.

With an 11-9 record in singles play, he was saddled with nearly half of his career losses in the 2009 campaign alone. But Zeilstra hasn't taken it personally since seven of his nine losses were to regionally ranked opponents. More importantly, though, he led the Knights to their seventh straight winning season, in which they finished with a 16-7 record.

"It was an up-and-down [singles] season for me, but overall I was pretty happy with how the team did," said Zeilstra.

Zeilstra's performance this spring is hardly indicative of the impact he's had on Calvin's established tennis program. In the past four years -- three of which yielded All-MIAA honors for the Chicago native -- Zeilstra compiled a 59-23 (.719) mark in singles action en route to helping the Knights notch more than 60 wins.

Including doubles matches, where Zeilstra flourished in 2009, he finished his career with a 124-26 (.729) record. Furthermore, the Knights were 19-5 in league matches and 29-6 at home throughout those four years.

"He was one of the top players in the region," said men's tennis John Ross. "He'll really, really be missed."

Marcus ZeilstraAlongside fellow senior Steve DeMaagd, Zeilstra's brightest moments this spring came in the doubles flight, where Calvin's No. 1 tandem conjured an 18-4 record and secured numerous upset wins.

On March 11, Calvin's debut match at the Huizenga Tennis and Track Center, they defeated Grand Valley State's top duo, cruising to an 6-3 victory over the Lakers, the No. 6 team in Division II's Midwest Region. Although Calvin lost to DePauw on April 10, Zeilstra and DeMaagd slipped past the Tigers' nationally ranked doubles combo of Bryan Heck and Scott Sandager, 8-4.

But perhaps their most satisfying win took place on April 25 as they mustered a come-from-behind win against Kalamazoo's No. 1 pairing of Cyrus Jadun and Jason Brown. Trailing 6-4, they stormed back and claimed four unanswered games to give Calvin its first point of the day -- though, the Knights would end up falling 6-3 to the eventual MIAA champs.

"They had a lot of big doubles wins for us," said Ross. "In matches where they weren't favored, they ended up winning. They always helped us to get things started on the right foot."

Since 2008, Zeilstra and DeMaagd manufactured a 28-6 record in doubles action. "[Steve] and I came into the season with a lot of confidence," said Zeilstra. "We played a lot together in the summer, which I think was one of the main factors. We wanted to make sure that our one-doubles was a strong point for [the team]."

Zeilstra's most memorable singles victory came against two-time MIAA MVP John Pelton at the Grand Rapids City Tournament in February. Unfortunately, the tournament was considered an exhibition, thus failing to factor into his overall record.  He tallied a 7-5, 3-6, 10-7 win over Pelton, who exacted revenge -- twice -- on Zeilstra later in the season.

"He's a competitor," said Ross. "He plays hard at all times and at practice makes everything fun for everyone."

Zeilstra graduated in May with a degree in accounting and will return to Chicago, where he will work for an accounting firm. He will be marrying former Calvin volleyball standout Jessica Garlick in August.

"I'm going to miss the competition we had," said Zeilstra. "Coach was always able to put together a really competitive schedule. He always gave us the best chance to get to nationals.

"And, of course, I'll miss the guys and the community we had here."