by Eva Dean Folkert
On Wednesday in their regular-season MIAA finale on Senior Day, Erin LaBarge and Taylor LaBarge, as well the entire Hope tennis team, were on a mission to not only clinch an outright league title but they also were looking to keep their undefeated league record intact. The 32nd-ranked Flying Dutch did both by defeating Adrian College, 9-0, at the Heeringa-VandePoel Courts on Hope's campus.
Hope captured its fifth consecutive MIAA women's championship with an 8-0 MIAA record while also being 15-5 overall.
For the senior LaBarge twins of Hudsonville (Hudsonville HS), this season's MIAA record is one they've repeated three times before. Over the course of their four-year careers, Erin, right, and Taylor, left, have been members of Hope teams that have not lost in the MIAA, going 32-0 from 2016-2019.
"To have them be undefeated is really amazing and it's really difficult to wrap my words around something like that," said head coach Bob Cawood. "I've just been very happy and very fortunate to have them come in and work extremely hard, day in and day out. They miss very little practice, and if they do, they make it up. They are always doing all the little things which is exactly what coaches love. To have that and to have them for four years at Hope has been awesome."
Against the Bulldogs, the Flying Dutch won each singles match in straight sets, dropping only three games total. In doubles, Hope also only lost three games in three pro sets.
Now the Flying Dutch head into the MIAA Tournament next week as the top seed. They'll open with a semifinal match on Wednesday, May 1 at 4 p.m. at home against an opponent to be determined on Saturday.
"To be able to go in as the #1 seed is always is a really nice thing," said Cawood. "To hold home court advantage and not have to deal with travel time and not have to worry about being away from campus, especially during exam week, is great. But we've got to take one match at a time. We want to make sure that we come out in doubles strong like we have so far in the conference... Hopefully we can take another MIAA tournament title."
No. 1 singles: Hallock (H) def. Cyrus (A), 6-0, 6-1
No. 2 singles: Bandrowski (H) def. Anthony (A), 6-0, 6-1
No. 3 singles: Jackson (H) def. Bishop (A), 6-0, 6-0
No. 4 singles: T. LaBarge (H) def. Jorgenson (A), 6-0, 6-1
No. 5 singles: Chorney (H) def. Maltbe (A), 6-0, 6-0
No. 6 singles: E. LaBarge (H) def. Crowley (A), 6-0, 6-0