October 24, 2012 – In the movie "Wedding Crashers," Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson show up to elite events uninvited. There's another elite event happening this weekend in Midland, one which the Hillsdale College tennis team need not crash.
The Chargers earned their way into a GLIAC Tournament berth in just their second modern season of existence. Hillsdale finished the 2012 season with a 9-5 record, tripling its team win total from last year. The team earned the No. 6 seed in this weekend's tournament, and will face Grand Valley State, the No. 3 seed, in the first round Friday afternoon at the Midland Community Tennis Center, one of the finest indoor facilities in the state of Michigan.
All teams are guaranteed to play three matches, one per day, each day of the tournament this weekend starting Friday. The Chargers and Lakers will face off starting at 6:45 p.m. Win or lose, Hillsdale will play again Saturday at 3:45 p.m., though its opponent will depend on whether it wins or loses, and on the results of other matches in the tournament. The team will play a third match, which will determine its final standing in the conference, at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Just getting to the tournament represents a major goal achieved for the team, according to coach Nikki Walbright, who expressed pride in how hard her team competed throughout this season.
"This season has exceeded all expectations and I couldn't be more proud of my girls," she said. "I have never seen a group of girls grow so much in just one season from beginning to end."
Walbright has overseen the biggest improvement by any team in the GLIAC this season. The Chargers went 3-11 last year, but won seven straight matches in the middle of their 9-5 campaign in 2012. Freshmen Sydney Delp and Lindsay Perice joined the program this year and made strong impacts, making the team stronger in both the singles and doubles flights. As the No. 2 doubles team, Delp and Peirce compiled an 11-3 record this season, winning 11 straight after an 0-2 start to the season. They also won their matches in decisive fashion, with 10 of their wins coming by scores between 8-0 and 8-4.
Delp played a team-high five three-set singles matches. In her first year, Delp proved to be one of the team's most competitive players, and will be a tough out for any opponent.
Senior Brittany Parks, who was named First-Team All-GLIAC a year ago, improved her play in 2012 and went 12-5 at No. 1 singles and won two matches at ITA Regionals in September. Parks and sophomore Morgan Delp went 10-4 at No. 1 doubles and won seven of their last eight matches.
Morgan Delp, a sophomore, was named GLIAC Player of the Week two weeks ago and also went 10-4, at No. 2 singles. Nine of her 10 singles wins came in straight sets, and six of those nine wins involved a set score of 6-1, showing how dominant she was at times in her second season.
"We have met each of our team goals that we have set this year and now we look forward to having a great time this weekend and play some very competitive tennis," Walbright added.
The other first-round matchups at the tournament Friday will be: 1. Northwood vs. 8. Ohio Dominican; 2. Wayne State vs. 7. Saginaw Valley State, and 4. Ashland vs. 5. Ferris State.