If she didn’t see improvement on Wednesday against Fruitport, there would be serious consequences.
“I told them I’d make them run a really long time,” Peterson said with a laugh. “This team really doesn’t like to run. But they responded and really came through today.”
Maybe Peterson needs to threaten her team more often because they were lights out against rival Fruitport in a 7-1 final at Spring Lake High School. Nearly all of the flights were completed in favor of Spring Lake in less than a half hour. With the victory, Spring Lake improves to 4-0 in Coastal Conference action and remains the favorite to capture the league title. Fruitport falls to 2-2 in league action.
The longest flight – and only Trojans’ victory – came at No. 2 singles, where Kelsie Haase’s consistently strong and well-placed groundstrokes helped her overcome Spring Lake’s Audrey Amendt, 6-4, 6-3.
Minutes after their match was completed, heavy rain swept through the area, so it didn’t dampen Spring Lake’s mood.
The good feeling was echoed by the Lakers’ No. 3 singles player, Roxane Strobel, who breezed by Fruitport’s Anna LeBeouf, 6-2, 6-0. After the match, LeBeouf complimented Strobel on her strong performance at the net.
“She kept on coming up at the net and she was totally catching me off guard,” said Strobel, a sophomore. “I was just trying to figure out a way to get her off net, and I started hitting some really good stingers at her. I think she angled them the wrong way.”
Strobel said she dedicated a lot of time in the winter working on her game at DeWitt Tennis Center on the campus of Hope College with instructor Marti Capestany.
“My net game has improved so much from working with Marti,” Strobel said. “She’s just so good.”
Strobel could be in line for a top singles flight for Spring Lake next season, said Peterson.
“She’s one of the few non-seniors that I get to keep,” she said. “Roxane is a player who is constantly looking to get better and she has a better understanding of the game than anyone. She has a great passion for the game and a drive like none other.”
Strobel said a love of tennis has been passed down from her older brother, Ray, a Spring Lake graduate who also starred under coach Charlie Bassett.
“We like to go out and hit to each other in the summer,” Strobel said. “He puts so much top-spin on his shots, though, so I’ve had to learn how to get them back.”
In other singles flights on Wednesday, senior Abbey Cook routed Fruitport senior Carrie LeBeouf, 6-1, 6-1; and the Lakers’ Lore Fernandez defeated freshman Cassidy Walbrink at No. 4, 6-0, 6-1.
Fruitport coach Brad Busscher said earlier in the week that if his squad were to compete with the Lakers, his doubles flights would have to thrive, but it didn’t happen.
“I don’t think it’s fare to say” they didn’t bring their ‘A’ game, he said. “We just didn’t play as well as we’re capable of today. But you’ve got to hand it to Spring Lake. They came out and executed.”
The Lakers continued the theme of straight-set victories in doubles, including Hayley Schram and Madison Khem at No. 1 over Liz Taylor and Emma Middlecamp, 6-2, 6-0.
At No. 2, the Lakers’ Faith Lee and Morgan Khem prevailed 6-2, 6-2 over the Trojans’ Beverly Mutchler and Kaylee McWilliams.
The freshmen duo of Amanda Twu and Jori Henderson prevailed by a 6-1, 6-1 score at No. 3 over Megan Kriger and Ashleigh Visscher; and juniors Stephanie Sabo and Maddie Parker scored a 6-1, 6-2 win against Mackenzie Portenga and Katie Bell at No. 4.
Peterson said her team may have benefited from playing in a brutally tough Allegan Invitational on Saturday, in which they faced traditional powerhouses Detroit Country Day, East Grand Rapids, and the host Tigers.
“It was a real eye-opener, but it was almost like a private lesson for them,” Peterson said. “They saw that this wasn’t working, so maybe I have to send it long.
Maybe I’ve got to try some drop shots. I think facing that type of competition forces you to make adjustments on the fly and helps you realize what you need to work on. Plus we did beat Ludington and Holland at it, so I took it as a positive experience.”
Strobel, for one, believes the tournament didn’t knock the Lakers off the path of their season’s goal.
“I really think this team is going to state,” she said. “I’m so confident in this team. We were two points away last year, but I think we definitely have it this time.”