With a 6-3 victory over Ohio Dominican this past Sunday, the No. 47 Ferris State men’s tennis team clinched the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, and expanded their winning streak to nine consecutive matches.
The team became the fourth Bulldog squad to bring home a conference championship this athletic year, joining FSU football, men’s basketball and volleyball in the trophy room.
“It’s awesome to see other Ferris programs win. It’s definitely a very good year for Ferris athletics. I’m just happy that I was able to represent Ferris and help add another championship to the list,” senior Laurent Galarneau said.
Galarneau, the senior standout, has taken on the role as Ferris’ ace in both singles and doubles this year, but notes the importance of every match, at every level.
“I do play the other team’s best player, but I love the challenge. All the matches are worth one point, so it’s not different than playing any other spot,” says Galarneau. “Everyone in the lineup has pressure to perform, but that’s just part of the game. All the guys have been doing a great job so far.”
With the help of his doubles partner and fellow senior Aaron Dial, the dynamic duo of Galarneau and Dial have produced some impressive results on the court, even against some of the top doubles talent in the country.
“We didn’t start the year playing together, but after some adjustments from our coach with the doubles lineup, we’re back at the number one spot playing together. We get along very well on the court and so far have had good results with a win against the No. 3 doubles team in the country.”
With strong leadership coming from these two veterans, the team had their sights set high going into the season. A GLIAC title was at the forefront of their minds all year.
“It was our goal since the first day of practice. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we also knew that we had the team to do it,” says Galarneau. “Now we just have to go win the conference tournament next weekend.”
Now that the Bulldogs have captured their first outright conference championship since 1994, the Dawgs are looking to ride their success into the postseason.
“We’d like to finish the season and win the GLIAC Tournament title as well. I think that may put us in good position to host the NCAA Regionals,” says Head Coach Chad Berryhill. “I don’t think we’ve done that in a long time, so that would be a great send off for the seniors and it would give us a good chance to qualify for the Sweet Sixteen, which has been our goal all year.”
Recent success has not only helped to build excitement for the tennis program around campus, but it has also attracted the eye of young athletes who may one day represent the Bulldogs on the tennis court as well.
“It’s really helped in recruiting. I think a lot of people see what we’re doing at the regional level, the conference level and the national level. People want to be a part of teams that can win, so hopefully we can continue that in the future,” says Coach Berryhill.
The Dawgs will be looking to reap the recruiting benefits of a good season, as they will be tasked with replacing some key players next year, following the departure of seniors Galarneau, Dial and Jordan Helderman. However, they will be returning the other 11 members of the team, who have all built good experience this season, and should see further success moving forward.
Because the Dawgs were awarded a first round bye in the conference tournament thanks to their undefeated conference season, the men’s tennis team will next see action on April 25 in the GLIAC semifinals. The first serve will fly at 3:45 p.m. in Midland, Mich.