In dramatic fashion, the Hillsdale College Chargers remain undefeated in the G-MAC conference in a match that came down to the last point.
Battling through a windy weekend, the Chargers swept another pair of conference matches in wins against Tiffin University and the University of Findlay. The wins advance the Chargers to 6 – 0 in G-MAC and 13 – 2 overall.
The toughest test the Chargers faced over the weekend was Saturday against Tiffin, when the wind blew at its strongest. After sweeping the doubles matches and securing the first point of the match, the Chargers fell in three of the first four singles matches. Sophomore Hannah Cimpeanu was the only player to win her match in the first four matches, which included a long three-set loss on the no. 4 court from junior Katie Bell and a close two-set loss on the no. 2 court from freshman Sarah Hackman.
The tricky wind meant Hackman’s match was full of long games and long rallies, as neither player was able to stay true to her game plan but rather had to contend with wind.
“It wasn’t a slug-fest like Hackman usually has,” head coach Nikki Walbright said.
Then, the Chargers were down 2 – 3, and after junior Kam Matthews won her match in three sets at no. 5, the score was tied 3 – 3 and the last match on the court was senior Corinne Prost at no. 6.
For one and a half sets, Prost’s match was the only one still going. With the match win up to her and everyone watching, she stayed mentally tough and outplayed her opponent.
“She was very focused, definitely the clutch player for the day, and did an awesome job,” Walbright said.
As the wind started to pick up more and it got cold, Prost felt confident in herself. And when the pressure mounted, it showed.
“It was a really good win, especially because I knew going into the match that I was fully capable of pulling it off mentally,” Prost said. “As long as I kept my positive energy up, I knew there was no way that she could overcome and beat me.”
The games weren’t as close on Sunday when the Chargers played indoors against Findlay, but they still faced difficult challenges. At no. 1 singles, Cimpeanu was trailing in her third set at the time the match was clinched, and on the no. 2 court Hackman dropped her match in two sets.
“Everyone was playing someone new that day, so we were always trying to adapt and get better,” Walbright said. “It was a tough day, for sure, but a lot of fun to get the wins.”
Despite the challenges, Bell and senior Halle Hyman were able to bounce back from their Saturday losses with convincing wins to help the Chargers reach their 4 – 1 match win.
With two pressure matches behind them, the Chargers have one more match this weekend at home against Cedarville University before the G-MAC Championship next weekend.
“I think the team feels excited and positive for the last match,” Bell said. “It’s also Senior Day which will be pretty emotional. Appreciating [the four seniors] will be really special and make the match a great one.”