Young Tennis Squad Contends for Mid-Con Tournament Berth
Despite having a small roster of players for
most of the season and a challenging schedule, the Oakland womenís tennis
team was in contention in the race for a spot in the Mid-Continent
Conference tournament all the way until the final day of league
competition. While the final win-loss record (4-12, 2-5 Mid-Con) was not
what the Golden Grizzlies were looking for, the team nonetheless turned in
a solid season and laid another building block for future success.
Erickson led Oakland in singles wins in 2006-07 and was a Mid-Con
Player of the Week selection.
After opening up the fall portion of the schedule with a non-scored match
with cross-town rival Detroit, Oakland split a pair of matches on the road
in Niagara Falls, New York, falling to host Niagara before taking a 6-1
win over St. Francis (Pa.). Seniors
Jessica Erickson (Port Huron, Mich.) and
(Rochester Hills, Mich.) led the way for OU in the first dual matches of
the season, with the pair combining to win both of their doubles matches
as well as both picking up singles wins against St. Francis.
Oakland did not play again until February when the team made the trek to
Fort Wayne, Indiana to face off against host IPFW and Eastern Illinois. In
the first match against Eastern Illinois it was the Panthers that came out
on top, taking a 6-1 win over the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland then fell in a
close one to IPFW, falling by a 4-3 score. Erickson was a part of three
wins over the weekend for OU, teaming with freshman
Gabrielle Gogas (Sarnia, Ontario)
for two wins in doubles play and picking up a singles win in the match
with Eastern Illinois.
Playing its first match at home this spring season at the end of February,
Oakland played a close one against Dayton in a contest that saw a pair of
key singles matches go to three sets. Dayton picked up wins in both of
those and it was enough for the Flyers to take a 5-2 win. Erickson
continued her strong early season play, winning both her singles and
doubles matches that led to her selection as the Mid-Conís Player of the
Week. It was the first Player of the Week award in her career and the only
time during the season that an OU players was selected for the honor.
Oakland then took off on a weekend trip that saw the Golden Grizzlies play
three matches in as many days in Ohio. After getting blanked at Akron,
Oakland moved on to Cleveland where it played both Cleveland State and
Chicago State. On Saturday OU fell to host Cleveland State in a close,
4-3, decision before coming back on Sunday to down Chicago State by a 5-2
score for its first victory of the spring season. Sophomore
Michelle Maxfield (Commerce
Twp., Mich.) won two singles matches and one doubles match to lead the
Golden Grizzlies in wins over the course of the two matches.
Next up for the Golden Grizzlies was the start of Mid-Con play with the
arrival of April. Oakland headed all the way out to Las Vegas for its
first conference weekend where it met three tough teams in Oral Roberts,
Southern Utah and Valparaiso. On the opening day OU dropped both matches,
with Oral Roberts taking a 7-0 win in the first match of the day before
Southern Utah scored a 5-2 victory in the second. Sophomore
Amanda Scheer (Sarnia, Ontario)
was the bright spot during the dayís play, picking up a pair of wins in
the match with Southern Utah.
Oaklandís strong start in the fall did not carry over into its first
matches of the spring season, however. Battling injuries and the layoff
between the seasons, the Golden Grizzlies won just two of their first
eight matches of the spring season, both 4-3 wins over Southern Utah in
non-conference action against the Thunderbirds on the teamís trip to Las
Valparaiso also held down the Golden Grizzlies on the second day in a 4-3
win that saw Oakland win just one match on the court, an 8-6 win at No. 3
doubles by Maxfield and Gogas.
Despite coming out of Las Vegas without a win, Oakland was still in
contention for a tournament slot and had the advantage of hosting its
final conference matches at home. Before hosting the Mid-Con matches the
Golden Grizzlies tuned up at home against future conference foe IPFW.
Things did not go OUís way, however, as the Mastodons blanked OU, 7-0,
with the only win for the Golden Grizzlies a victory at No. 3 doubles by
Maxfield and Gogas.
Needing at least three wins in its four Mid-Con matches to stay in
contention for a tournament berth, Oakland turned things around and
pitched a couple of shutouts of its own on the first day, blanking both
UMKC and Centenary, 7-0. Friday the 13th was indeed a good day for OU as
Sanchez-Murphy swept through her singles matches with out dropping a game
with Scheer dropping only one as the pair led the Golden Grizzlies back
into the mix for a Mid-Con Tournament berth.
Oaklandís playoff hopes came down to a key match with Western Illinois the
next day. It was close but no cigar, however, as the Westerwinds came away
with a tight, 4-3 win. After WIU scored the doubles point, singles play
proved to be both exciting and drawn out as four of the five matches that
were finished went to three sets. After the Westerwinds got a straight
sets win at No. 1 singles to take a 2-0 lead in the match, Maxfield
attempted to get OUís first point of the day, coming back after dropping
the first set in No. 3 singles to take the second by a 6-2 margin. In the
third set her opponent prevailed, however, and WIU was just one point away
from taking the match.
Oakland then came up two wins, with Scheer getting the first point for OU
at No. 2 singles. In another three-set affair she won the first set,
dropped the second and then came back to take the third 6-3 to pick up the
victory. Erickson then followed the same route, winning the first and
third sets on her way to her third win of the weekend as well at No. 4
singles. The match came down to the decision at No. 5 where Gogas got past
her opponent in the first set only to fall in the final two sets, a loss
that gave Western Illinois the deciding point.
Despite the disappointment at the end of the season, the Oakland womenís
tennis team showed that it could be an up and comer next season. The
Golden Grizzlies received some strong play from its young players, and the
addition of another strong recruiting class should push OU closer to that
elusive conference playoff position.