May 14, 2010

*Courtesy of Calvin College Athletics

CHICAGO - The most successful season in Calvin women's tennis history came to a close on Friday afternoon as the Knights were defeated 5-2 by Washington University in a second round match played at the University of Chicago's Stagg Tennis Courts.

Calvin closes out its season with an overall record 19-4 - matching a school record for victories in a season. Calvin's journey through the NCAA III Tournament this week was the first in school history with the Knights also recording their first-ever NCAA III Tournament win on Thursday with a 5-0 first round triumph over Baldwin-Wallace College.

Calvin fought hard against a Washington University team (14-5) that entered the match ranked 21st nationally, but came up a little short in several tight matches.

Wash. U. grabbed an early 2-1 lead after double play with the Bears winning 8-0 at No. 2 doubles and 8-1 at No. 3 doubles. Calvin's No. 1 doubles team of juniors Melissa Oosterhouse (Grand Rapds/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Kaitlin Spoelhof (Holland/Holland Christian HS) did record an 8-1 win however to give the Knights a key point.

The Bears quickly went up 4-1 though with victories at No. 2 and No. 3 singles but the Knights fought back with a 7-6, 6-2 win by Oosterhouse at No. 1 singles. Oosterhouse trailed 5-1 in the opening set but rallied to win the set in a tiebreaker. Junior Michell Busscher (Whitehall/Western Michigan Christian HS) kept the match alive by forcing at third set at No. 5 singles and senior Rachel Strikwerda (Holland/Holland Christian HS) was on the verge of doing the same at No. 4 singles but Wash. U's Elise Sambol was able to clinch the victory for the Bears by pulling out a 7-6, 7-6 win at No. 6 singles, winning the second set tiebreaker 8-6.

"I am extremely proud of my team, even in defeat," said Calvin women's tennis coach Jerry Bergsma. "We knew that they (Wash. U.) were very deep but our players fought to the finish. That has been a hallmark of our team this year and it is one of the reasons why this team has been such a pleasure to coach."

With her singles victory, Oosterhouse boosted her 2009-10 overall singles record to 25-1 heading into the NCAA III Singles Tournanament May 28. Oosterhouse also finished with a 23-0 singles record in dual match play this spring, becoming the first Calvin tennis player to win 20 matches and go undefeated in a dual match season.

Oosterhouse and Spoelhof also upped their doubles record to 17-7 during the 2009-10 season.

Closing out their Calvin tennis careers on Friday were seniors Rachel Strikwerda, Rachel DeGroot (Lombard, IL/Timothy Christian HS) and Jill VanVeen (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS).

"The most difficult thing about the end of the season is saying good-bye to your seniors, particularly this group," said Bergsma. "They have been integral parts of the success of our program over the last four years and they have also been wonderful representatives of Calvin College. They will be greatly missed."

Calvin's 2009-10 team will also have the distinction of winning the school's first MIAA regular season and MIAA Tournament titles since 1982.