BG tennis earns spot in MAC tourney (04-25-13)
Written by JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:58
During the final day of Mid-American Conference regular-season play last Saturday, the Bowling Green State University tennis team was facing an interesting dilemma.
|BG's Katie Grubb returns the ball in a doubles match against Toledo. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Because of the results of the other conference matches, the Falcons had to beat Western Michigan to advance to the MAC tournament.
''They knew there was an outside chance they might not get in,'' said Penny Dean, who is in her 23rd season as the Falcons' head coach.
''Every time people started talking about it, I majorly emphasized that we were in control of our own destiny.''
History was not with the Falcons as Bowling Green entered the match against WMU having gone 0-38 all-time against the Broncos.
To add to the drama, Bowling Green lost the doubles point. BG had not lost a doubles point in over three months until the WMU match.
''They responded positively,'' Dean said. ''Our usual MO (modus operandi) is winning the doubles point, the first thing played, and Katie Brozovich winning. Those are two points we have counted on the whole MAC season.
''I just challenged them and said 'that every single one of you is capable of winning your match when you go out on this court,''' Dean continued. ''They responded to that pressure and that motivation.''
The Falcons won five of the six singles matches to down the Broncos.
With the victory, Bowling Green finished the regular season 16-4 overall and 5-3 in the MAC. The Falcons tied for second in the MAC and earned the No. 2 seed for the tournament.
Both the regular-season finish and tournament seeding are the best in program history for the Falcons.
It truly was a team effort in the 16-win season, which tied the school record. Dean's 1998-99 team set the record, going 16-7 overall, while her 2007-08 Falcon club finished with a 16-5 mark.
Seniors Maddy Eccleston, Katie Grubb, Mary Hill and Jade Johnson provided leadership and solid play.
Eccleston tops BG's all-time list for doubles victories with 95 and is second in overall career wins with 167.
Dean said the seniors were able to provide experience and leadership while playing with confidence.
''What I really appreciated as a coach is that they had a good outlook,'' Dean said about the seniors. ''Every day when they come to practice, they work hard to set a standard.''
Juniors Nikki Chiricosta and Emily Reuland held down the top two singles spots and also played No. 1 doubles.
Freshman Brozovich became a major contributor at the bottom of the lineup. She was 8-1 at both No. 4 and No. 6 singles and 2-0 at No. 5 singles. Brozovich went 6-1 in conference singles play, losing only at Western Michigan.
Brozovich was also 15-7 playing with four different doubles partners.
''We could win points at the top and maybe in the middle, but we couldn't win very many points at the bottom (of the lineup) last year," Dean said. Adding Brozovich changed that this year. ''She is such a contributor.''
Dean added that Johnson was a mentor and played the big sister role to Brozovich.
Academics are a big part of the tennis team's success. They were honored Monday as having the highest grade-point-average for a women's sport at BGSU with a 3.74.
Eccleston, who has a 3.95 GPA, was honored as the female recipient of the Falcon Medal Of Honor, the highest award given to a BGSU male and female athlete.
Dean also praised assistant coach Cindy (Mikolajewski) Yonker, a Perrysburg High School graduate, who was a standout player for the Falcons.
"This is her fourth year with us and it's a much better coaching scenario,'' Dean said. ''And I think that for me it has helped me to be a better coach; she had taken some of the load off of me.''
The MAC tournament is being played at Ball State, and the Falcons will face the winner of the Akron-Buffalo match in Saturday's semifinal round. The championship match is Sunday.
''This is just a bonus this weekend, going right into the semifinals which is a positive for us,'' Dean said. ''To win, we have to win two matches and with a high performance level we can beat any of the teams.''
The MAC tournament winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 18:09