May 13, 2010

Courtesy of Calvin College

CHICAGO, IL - The Calvin women's tennis team picked up a 5-0 first round NCAA III Tournament victory over Baldwin-Wallace College (18-8) Thursday morning at a regional hosted by the University of Chicago. Calvin took early momentum with three straight doubles victories and then clinched the victory with victories from junior Michelle Busscher at No. 5 singles and junior Melissa Oosterhouse at No. 1 singles. Calvin will face Washington University of St. Louis in a second round match on Friday at 10 a.m. (CST).

Over the past few weeks, Calvin (18-3) has made a habit of digging out of 2-1 deficits after doubles play but on Thursday, the Knights made no mistakes early, ripping off an 8-2 win at No. 2 doubles (Rachel Strikwerda/Jill VanVeen), an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles (Rachel DeGroot/Elisabeth Geenen) and an 8-5 win at No. 1 doubles (Oosterhouse/Kaitlin Spoelhof).

"That doubles start was so important for us," said Calvin head coach Jerry Bergsma after the match. "It's been awhile since we've played consistently across the board in doubles play. Our doubles play gave us a huge momentum boost. We had the mental toughness early on that we've been lacking in doubles at times during the year."

Calvin carried the momentum into singles play as Busscher quickly rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 5 singles and Oosterhouse followed with a match-clinching victory at No. 1 singles by a 6-3, 6-3 score. At the time of completion of the No. 1 singles match, Spoelhof was also up at set at No. 2 singles, Geenen up a set and nearing a victory at No. 3 singles while Strikwerda was battling to force a third set at No. 4 singles. The No. 6 singles match had not yet begun.

Thursday's match was played indoors at East Chicago Bally's Fitness Club because of torrential rains that swept through the Chicago area Thursday morning. The indoor courts were not unfamiliar to the Knights as they played inside the facility two years ago in a non-conference match against the University of Chicago. "I think mentally it's easier to come indoors after playing outdoors during the season," said Bergsma. "We also practice a bit indoors this week back home and the fact that we had played (inside) here before definitely helped."

Thursday's match marked Calvin's first-ever appearance in NCAA III Tournament play in women's tennis. According to Bergsma, the Knights showed little signs of nervousness. "I told our players that there was nothing to be nervous about," said Bergsma. "I told them that they had earned this (tournament) bid and they deserved to be here. We've also played a very challenging schedule this spring so this match was not unlike many of the other matches we have had this spring."

Calvin will now turn its attention to a second round match against Washington University of St. Louis at 10 a.m. (CST) at the University of Chicago. The match is scheduled to played outdoors at Chicago's Stagg Tennis Courts. Washington University (13-5) will enter the match ranked 21st nationally.

"They (Wash. U.) are very deep," said Bergsma. "We will definitely have a big challenge. A key will be getting off to a strong start in doubles play."

With her singles victory on Thursday, Oosterhouse upped her season singles mark to 24-1 overall and to 22-0 in dual match play. Busscher improved to 17-5 in singles play while the doubles tandem of Geenen and DeGroot improved to 19-3, the tandem of Strikwerda and VanVeen to 14-7 and the pair of Oosterhouse and Spoelhof to 16-7.