Entering the GLIAC tournament as the last, eighth seed, Hillsdale College women’s tennis took seventh Sunday, ending its time in the conference with a win during its final in-season match until spring 2018.
The Chargers went 1-2 this weekend, losing to Northwood and Saginaw Valley State universities and beating Michigan Tech, during its final GLIAC matches before Hillsdale switches to the GMAC conference in the 2017-2018 academic year. The tournament’s results leave the team with a 5-9 record for the season.
“The season was a good balance of returners and two new freshmen who were very strong,” coach Nikki Walbright said. “Everyone pulled together really well, and we definitely saw a progression over the season.”
Three players received All-GLIAC honors following the tournament. After fighting some of the toughest opponents at No. 1 singles with an overall record of 8-3, sophomore Halle Hyman received First-Team All-GLIAC for the second year in a row.
“I am really happy that all my hard work paid off,” Hyman said. “It is a very good feeling knowing I had a successful season.”
Despite a back injury this season, freshman Katie Bell overcame the challenge with a 14-8 season to earn Second-Team All-GLIAC.
“I was so surprised because of my back injury, and I couldn’t play all the time,” Bell said. “I was so happy I could play all three days during the tournament.”
Ending her final season by making All-GLIAC for the first time, senior Dana Grace Buck received honorable mention honors.
Buck, along with sophomore Madeline Bissett, swept in their doubles competition Friday through Sunday at No. 3, giving Buck her 49th career doubles victory as one of the best doubles players in Hillsdale’s history. The duo earned the college its sole point 8-6 in the quarterfinals against undefeated Northwood on Friday. Northwood earned five points on the Chargers.
“Everyone was right there supporting court three,” Walbright said. “Even though they were technically the first seed, you wouldn’t really know it, if you were watching the match. The girls were right in there with them on every court.”
On Saturday, the tennis team faced No. 5 Saginaw Valley in the consolation bracket. The Chargers lost 5-2, with Hyman winning in singles 6-4, 7-5 along with Buck and Bissett in doubles 8-4.
Hyman beat SVSU senior Izabella Ismailova, who she played at a home match on Oct. 16.
“I was able to defeat a girl I lost to in normal season, which was a good feeling,” Hyman said.
By Sunday, after playing two long, hard-fought matches, the players were exhausted, Walbright said.
“It’s hard to prepare for three really intense days of tennis,” Walbright said. “It was just very draining, so that’s definitely the biggest challenge.”
Despite this, the women fought hard in the seventh-place match and came out victorious 5-1 against No. 7 Michigan Tech, who had beaten Hillsdale during the regular season.
“It was a nice achievement that we could do that, even though we were all so exhausted,” Bell said.
Buck and Bissett won 8-3, and the Hyman-Bell team won 8-6 at No. 1 doubles. In singles, Bell won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 2, and Bissett earned the Chargers a point in her match, coming in victorious 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. Sophomore Julia Formentin swept 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 6 spot.
The team now heads into the offseason for more than a year, as the women’s tennis season moves from the fall to the spring in the GMAC, though it will have non-championship spring and fall matches leading up to its first in-season matches in 2018.
“It’ll be a little strange coming from the intense season we just had to now it’s over, and it’s going to be over a year before we get into season play,” Walbright said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think a spring season is more conducive to how a tennis season should be.”
The fall will give players the opportunity to train after the summer instead of immediately starting matches upon their return.
“It was hard going from the preseason into matches with school starting and classes,” Bell said.
For now, though, the women are resting up after the three-day tournament and have plans to focus on their technique and fitness before playing matches on the court again. They will also reflect on the season and seek out ways to improve for the future, even if it appears far away for now.
“This was the last season that our team would be in the GLIAC, and I think we all tried our best to leave our mark on the conference,” Hyman said.