Junior Halle Hyman pre­pares to return a serve in a match on Sunday. (Photo: Breana Noble | Col­legian)

The Hillsdale College women’s tennis team cap­tured the regular season G‑MAC cham­pi­onship on Sunday, fin­ishing off a perfect season with two 8 – 1 vic­tories this weekend.

“Fin­ishing in first was our goal this season, and the girls did a great job,” head coach Nikki Wal­bright said. “I’m really proud of them.”

It’s the Chargers’ second con­ference cham­pi­onship, and it puts them in the No. 1 seed for this weekend’s G‑MAC cham­pi­onship tour­nament. The Inter­col­le­giate Tennis Asso­ci­ation ranked the seniorless team No. 6 in the Midwest and No. 47 nationally in the NCAA Division II. Beating Walsh Uni­versity on Sat­urday and the Uni­versity of Findlay on Sunday in the Biermann Ath­letic Center, the team has set a 10-match win streak, going 7 – 0 in the G‑MAC and 12 – 4 overall.

“We have an extremely tal­ented team this year, but we have also worked very hard day in and day out to get to where we are,” junior Madeline Bissett said. “There’s no better feeling than seeing that work pay off.”

The G‑MAC office gave Hillsdale College even more to cel­e­brate on Monday when it honored sophomore Katie Bell, who went unde­feated this weekend and has won her past seven doubles and singles matches, with Player of the Week. It’s the second time Bell has won the award this year.

“She had a great weekend, and was very con­fident in her play,” Wal­bright said.

Although breaking their five-match 9 – 0 winning streak, the Chargers took sole pos­session of first place in the G‑MAC on Sat­urday when they beat the unde­feated Walsh Cav­a­liers (10 – 9, 6 – 1 G‑MAC).

Hillsdale came in hot in doubles, sweeping all three courts. No. 1 duo freshman Hannah Cim­peanu and junior Halle Hyman won 8 – 4, while Bell and junior Corinne Prost were vic­to­rious 8 – 5 at No. 2.

Junior Madeline Bissett con­tinued the best season of her tennis career, going 6 – 0, 6 – 0 at No. 6 singles, after she teamed with sophomore Kamryn Matthews for an 8 – 2 doubles win on court three.

“Going into this season, we knew that we were going to be one of the front-runners,” Matthews said. “As the season has gone on, we’ve con­tinued to work hard every day to keep improving and to stay dom­inant. Going into every match we know what we need to accom­plish and do our best to just get our jobs done.”

Hyman held onto her winning streak at No. 1 singles, defeating Walsh sophomore Mer­cedes Fer­nandez 6 – 2, 6 – 0. Cim­peanu won 6 – 2, 6 – 1 at No. 2, and Bell took court three 6 – 3, 6 – 0. At No. 5, Matthews won 6 – 0, 6 – 3.

In a long, tough match, Prost lost her match on court four. Going into a tiebreaker in the first set, Prost pushed freshman Katarina Razum into a third set for a final score of 7 – 6 (8 – 6), 4 – 6, 10 – 7. Prost made her comeback on Sunday, though.

On court two, Prost and Bell won 8 – 1 in doubles against Findlay, matching Bissett and Matthew’s score on court three.

At No. 1 doubles, Cim­peanu and Hyman fell to the Oilers 8 – 4, but that did not hold the Chargers down, as they swept singles play.

Matthews at No. 5 and Bissett at No. 6 fin­ished singles with double bagels — a score of 6 – 0, 6 – 0, giving Bissett a perfect weekend for singles play.

At No. 1, Hyman won in a tie-breaking set, defeating freshman Samantha Sweet 2 – 6, 6 – 1, 10 – 4. On court two, Cim­peanu was vic­to­rious 6 – 1, 6 – 1, and Bell won 6 – 0, 6 – 4. Prost went 6 – 2, 6 – 2 against her opponent on court four.

The win earned the Chargers 62 match vic­tories with only two losses for their first year in the G‑MAC con­ference. Five players have earned 20 or more match vic­tories this season: Bell, Bissett, Cim­peanu, Hymnan, and Matthews. This year’s cham­pi­onship victory is the team’s first since the 1983 GLIAC cham­pi­onship.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team­mates,” Cim­peanu said. “We were able to come out vic­to­rious because of our hard work, encour­agement, and God’s blessings. It feels good to start the G‑MAC the way we did.”

The pressure, however, is on for this weekend, as the team heads to Ken­tucky for the G‑MAC tour­nament. The com­pe­tition for the Chargers starts at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at the Owensboro Tennis Complex, when they again face fourth-seed Findlay in the semi­finals.

“We don’t want to get ahead of our­selves and presume,” Wal­bright said. “That’s the thing with tennis, you play one match and the next time it can be a com­pletely dif­ferent match. We’re just going to go do our job.”

Should Hillsdale win, it will then compete in the finals at 11 a.m. on Sat­urday. A tour­nament cham­pi­onship would be a program first.

“We’re going to go in focused on our own game and with con­fi­dence,” Wal­bright said. “It’s a new day.”