So far, so good for the Lakers.
Spring Lake overcame some teeth-rattling wind gusts at Grand Haven High School on Wednesday by powerfully driving its groundstrokes and displaying consistently good placement. As a result, the Lakers’ singles players swept their neighboring rivals and helped Spring Lake roll to a season-opening 6-2 victory over the Bucs.
“Spring Lake played tough,” said Grand Haven second-year coach Jamie Oppelander. “It looked like our girls were ready for another practice. We have to get ‘match tight.’”
“I was surprised it ended up 6-2,” added Peterson, whose squad missed qualifying for state by just two points last season. “Usually it’s our doubles that do so well, but tonight our singles players led the way. With the windy conditions we wanted the girls to focus on driving the ball, but the wind really wasn’t a huge factor. We wanted them to keep it low and work on their placements and they did a great job.”
That plan was executed very well by Lakers’ senior Abbey Cook, who is entering her third and final season at No. 1 singles. Cook said she feels she has a lot more force behind her shots, thanks to the hard work she put in over the off-season with tennis pro Nick Rinks at Norton Pines Athletic Club. She was also a little more consistent with her placement at the net than her opponent, Bucs’ sophomore Erin Staal.
“(Staal) is a really good player,” Cook said, after she escaped with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. “She had a really good forehand, and she burned me with that a few times.”
Peterson said Cook has improved greatly as far as being more aggressive on the court and finishing off points.
“She’s getting more comfortable coming to the net, which we’ve encouraged her to do more in practice,” Peterson said. “We’d like to see her bring it a little more.”
In other singles results, Spring Lake’s Audrey Amendt rolled past Grand Haven’s Leah Strong at No. 2, 6-1, 6-0; and Roxane Strobel scored a 6-1, 6-1 win for the Lakers at No. 3 over Bucs’ junior Allison Cotter.
“I’m really expecting big things from Roxane Strobel,” Peterson said. “She’s the first one at practice hitting balls and the last one to leave. She’s the most dedicated player we have.”
Spring Lake also got a nice win from Spanish foreign exchange student Loreto Fernandez, as she bested the Bucs’ Nikki Birkett, 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s fun because I’m able to speak in Spanish at practice all the time now,” said Peterson, a high school Spanish teacher at Spring Lake.
In doubles action, Spring Lake’s Hayley Schram and Madison Khem are new partners at No. 1, but they worked well together in beating Grand Haven’s Paige Reierson and Meghan Hendrickson, 6-2, 6-4. The Bucs’ duo struggled with their serving throughout the match, while serving was a strength for the Lakers’ pair.
“We served pretty well and we were able to hit quite a few sharp-angled shots when we were running in,” said Schram, who also starred for the Lakers’ volleyball team. “We want to get to state, definitely. I feel we’ve got strong doubles and really, we’re pretty good all the way around.”
Spring Lake’s Morgan Khem and Faith Lee rolled at No. 2, 6-0, 6-3, but the Bucs avoided the sweep by winning at both No. 3 and No. 4. Maggie Ginochhio and Gretchen Kelly defeated Spring Lake’s freshman duo of Jori Henderson and Amanda Twu, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3; while at No. 4, the Bucs’ Lauren Kruggle and Melissa Eveland scored a 6-2, 6-0 win over Spring Lake’s Stephanie Sabo and Maddie Parker.