Women’s Tennis Advances to Championship Final of MIAA Tournament - Defeating Albion in Semis
Friday, April 30, 2010
HOLLAND - For the third consecutive year, the Calvin women’s tennis team has advanced to the championship final of the MIAA Tournament. The top-seeded Knights did so in dramatic fashion on Friday, defeating third-seeded Albion 6-3 in the MIAA Tournament semifinals Friday afternoon at the Holland Christian High School Tennis Courts.
Calvin will face second-seeded Hope in the MIAA Tournament finals at 10:30 a.m. indoors at Hope’s DeWitt Tennis Center with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament.
Calvin (17-3 overall) opened the day with a 9-0 first round victory over eighth-seeded Alma Friday morning but then found itself in a dog fight with Albion in the semis Friday afternoon as the Britons gained a 2-1 lead after doubles play. Calvin’s lone point came at No. 3 doubles with seniors Elisabeth Geenen (Holland/Holland Christian HS) and Rachel DeGroot (Lombard, IL/Timothy Christian HS) winning 8-3. Calvin’s No. 1 doubles team of juniors Kaitlin Spoelhof (Holland Christian HS) and Melissa Oosterhouse (Grand Rapids Christian HS) held a 3-0 lead early on but the regionally-ranked Albion squad of Shelley Zamler and Anna Gunderson rebounded to win eight of the next nine games and the match 8-4.
Calvin regained the lead with quick wins from Spoelhof (6-1, 6-0) at No. 2 singles and Geenen (6-2, 6-0) at No. 3 singles to regain the lead 3-2. Junior Michelle Busscher (Whitehall/Western Michigan Christian HS) then delivered a clutch 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 4 singles, leaving the Knights one win away from clinching the match, holding a 4-2 lead.
Gaining the final point would not prove easy though as the Britons (12-9) picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles, leaving two matches on the court - Oosterhouse vs Zamler at No. 1 singles and senior Rachel Strikwerda (Holland/Holland Christian HS) vs Morgan Watler at No. 4 singles. Both matches were extended to three sets with Oosterhouse winning 6-1 in set one but then falling 6-2 in set two after battling fatigue. In the third set, Oosterhouse fell behind Zamler 4-3 but held serve to tie the set at 4-4 and then broke Zamler’s serve to take a 5-4 lead. What ensued was an epic game with Oosterhouse gaining four match points only to see Zamler fight off elimination each time. Oosterhouse finally broke through on the fifth match point opportunity however, winning the third set 6-4 and clinching the deciding fifth point for the Knights.
Within minutes of the completion of the Oosterhouse/Zamler cliffhanger, Strikwerda completed an impressive three-set win of her own, defeating Watler 7-6 (4) 2-6, 6-2. Strikwerda trailed 6-5 in set one but rallied to win the next two games including a 7-4 tie-breaker to win the opening set. After dropping set two, Strikwerda fell behind 2-1 in set three but suddenly caught fire with aggressive forehand strikes to the corners to win the final five games.
The victory by Oosterhouse kept her undefeated in dual match competition this year, boosting her overall season singles record to 22-1 and her dual match singles record to 20-1. Strikwerda improved to 17-3 in singles play. Geenen upped her season singles mark to 18-4 with Spoelhof improving to 12-7 in singles play and Busscher to 15-5.
“I thought we were very focused in our match this morning vs Alma,” said Calvin women’s tennis coach Jerry Bergsma after the match. “I thought we carried that momentum early in our match with Albion but I have to credit Albion for standing tall and giving us a huge challenge. Their (Albion’s) doubles teams are very good and got us back on our heels.”
Just a week-and-a-half prior, Calvin faced the same situation in a regular season dual match with Albion, trailing 2-1 after doubles but rallying to win by the same 6-3 score. “We impressed to everyone that the key in singles was to play each match one point at a time and not try to get four (singles) victories all at once. That’s really been our strategy all week long - taking it one point and one match at a time. When we played Alma on Monday, we wanted to focus on that match alone and not to look forward to the (MIAA) tournament.”