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Calvin Women’s Tennis Team Captures MIAA Tournament Title - Punches NCAA III Tournament Ticket

Saturday, May 01, 2010

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HOLLAND - Two years ago the Calvin women’s tennis team could smell an MIAA Tournament title and a trip to the NCAA III Tournament. A year ago the Knights could taste it. On Saturday, the Knights were able to take a great big juicy bite of an MIAA Tournament title and with it, their first-ever trip to the NCAA III Tournament.

Calvin punched its ticket to the NCAA III Tournament with a 6-3 victory over rival Hope in the MIAA Tournament Championship final on Saturday afternoon at West Ottawa High School. The victory came one year after Calvin had been defeated by Hope 5-4 in the MIAA Tournament final after holding a 4-2 lead earlier in the match. Saturday’s win also came two years after a 5-4 loss to Albion in the (2008) MIAA Tournament finals in a match that Calvin led 4-3 but could not close out.

On Saturday, Calvin (18-3 overall) fell behind 2-1 after doubles play but then clinched the victory behind a roaring round of singles play as the Knights ripped off four singles victories in a span of 45 minutes. The singles wins came from junior Melissa Oosterhouse (No. 1 singles), junior Kaitlin Spoelhof (No. 2 singles), senior Elisabeth Geenen (No. 3 singles) and senior Rachel Strikwerda (No. 4 singles) with Strikwerda’s win clinching the match. Junior Michelle Busscher (Whitehall/Western Michigan Christian HS) then added a win at No. 5 singles for good measure to close out the delicious victory.

“The disappointments of the past two years don’t even compare to the excitement we feel after winning today,” said Calvin women’s tennis coach Jerry Bergsma after the match. “The disappointments from the past motivated this group to keep working hard. To see it come together today after learning from the past two years is all you can ask for as a coach. It is extremely satisfying.”

Calvin opened the match with a stirring 8-3 win by Spoelhof (Holland/Holland Christian HS) and Oosterhouse (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) at No. 1 doubles but Hope rallied back with 8-5 wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles.

Placed in a familiar position - a 2-1 deficit after doubles - Calvin regrouped and built momentum in a snowball like fashion.

“We met briefly after doubles and it wasn’t like we were happy to be down 2-1 but we knew that one of our strengths was our singles play,” said Bergsma. “We just got on a roll in singles. There was no hiccup at all. It was really fun to see.”

At the conclusion of the match, Oosterhouse was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player - becoming the first Calvin women’s tennis player to receive the award since Tawnie Knottnerus shared the honor in 1984. Strikwerda was also honored with the MIAA’s Karen Caine Scholar Athlete Award - an award instituted in 2007 to honor former long-time Adrian women’s tennis coach Karen Caine. Strikwerda is the first Calvin women’s tennis player to receive the award.

In addition, Oosterhouse was named to the All-MIAA first team for the third straight year while Spoelhof was so honored for the second straight year. Geenen was named to the All-MIAA second team for a fourth straight year.

The MIAA Tournament title is Calvin’s first since 1982. It also marks the first time that Calvin swept through the MIAA regular season undefeated and captured the MIAA Tournament title in the same year.

Calvin will learn of its NCAA III Tournament destination when the field is unveiled on May 10.

MIAA TOURNAMENT NOTES....Oosterhouse finished undefeated against MIAA competition this spring and is 23-1 in singles play this year with her only loss coming in the ITA Regionals back in October…Geenen is now 19-4 at No. 3 singles this spring….Spoelhof is 15-7 at No. 2 singles….Strikwerda is 18-3 at No. 4 singles…Busscher is 16-5 at No. 5 singles…Bergsma is taking his second Calvin varsity sports team to the NCAA III Tournament as he served as the interim head coach for Calvin’s 2001 women’s volleyball team that won the MIAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA III Tournament…Bergsma was also an assistant coach on several Calvin women’s volleyball teams that advanced to NCAA III Tournament play in the 1990s….

Jerry Bergsma Audio Interview

Jan Spoelhof Postmatch Audio Interview

Rachel Strikwerda Audio Interview

Kaitlin Spoelhof Audio Interview

Elisabeth Geenen Audio Interview

Melissa Oosterhouse Audio Interview

MIAA Tournament Photo Gallery

Posted in: Women's Tennis
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