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April 18, 2024

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Tennis: Gabel finishes up collegiate career

Great athletes start playing their sport at a very young age. Bowling Green tennis player, Alyson Gabel, is one of those athletes.

Being the youngest of four in her family she started playing when she was five years old and played in tournaments when she was really young.

“My mom would bring me along when my brothers and sister were playing and then let me play in the tournament, so I was much younger than everyone else,” Gabel said. “I was seven playing 12-year-olds.”

Since Gabel was so young she lost almost all of her matches, but that did not stop her from playing tennis.

“I just thought it was fun,” Gabel said.

And the fun continued into her college years.

Gabel decided to go to Miami University for her first two years of college because her mother and sister had both gone there, but then transferred to Bowling Green her junior year.

“I almost went to BG in the first place because I took a recruiting visit here when I was in high school,” Gabel said. “I am really good friends with the team here. They are like my best friends and my team at Miami was harder to get along with. I wasn’t really friends with them. … The campus here is a lot more friendly.”

Since becoming a Falcon in 2001, Gabel has shown much success.

“Bowling Green was very fortunate that she transferred here after her first two years at Miami because she added so much strength to our team in the middle of our line-up,” Dean said.

In 2001-02 she led the Falcons in both singles (16) and overall (23) victories. She went 16-17 in singles play and competed mostly at the fourth flight in dual-match play.

“Last year was more like a build year for our team,” Gabel said. “I was happy with my own performance. We had a rough season and were seventh in the conference.”

As a result of her performance she became co-captain of the tennis team this year.

“She came in and was elected captain at the end of last year by her peers on the team and she had just been here one year,” Dean said. “I think that shows how she was able to help even her junior year with some leadership and some encouragement for the younger players because we really had a young team last year.”

This season she did not lose a match in the conference at No. 3 singles. She finished the season with 14 singles victories and 22 overall wins.

“She contributed so much for us in both singles and doubles this year,” Dean said. “Her games have improved.”

“In singles this past spring I had a really good season,” Gabel said. “We played Miami and I won my match. It was probably my best match of the season, so that was exciting.”

Gabel ends her career at BG on a five match winning streak after defeating Northern Illinois last weekend in the Mid-American Conference Championships.

“It was a tribute to her that she was playing her best college tennis in the last part of the season,” Dean said. “She contributed in so many ways because she was always encouraging to other players. She was there for them, whether it was victory of defeat.”

As a result, Gabel received the Leeann Gavidge Sportsmanship Award Thursday. The winner of this award is chosen by everyone in the conference and given to only one player.

“I felt it was awesome that she was the person to get that,” Dean said. “She has good sportsmanship.”

Her doubles partner, Gaby Coello, agreed.

“She’s an awesome girl,” Coello said. “She’s very smart. She’s a role model for all of us because she’s so into class and academics and, on the other side, she’s so into the team and encourages the team.”

However, prior to coming to Bowling Green, Gabel hadn’t played much doubles tennis.

“I never played doubles much, growing up I was more of a singles player,” Gabel said. “I played here with Gaby Coello and we really clicked well together. We played a different type of game. We played less aggressive and more strategic.”

“Alyson and I was a weird combination in the beginning because both of us are really short,” Coello said. “We find a way to beat people. Both of us are baselines, so we have to beat people from the baseline, which mixed the game up a little bit.” Dean even commented on their style of playing, saying that it was unique, but they still won.

“Usually you want to have your doubles team volley at the net,” Dean said. “These two liked to play doubles from back at the baseline and somehow it worked out very well together.”

Gabel and Coello are friends both on and off the court, which helps improve their communication during a match.

“They communicated well together,” Dean said. “They seemed to know each other’s move that they were going to make on the court. They were hard to play against for other teams because mostly other teams at No. 2 level saw the standard doubles action where there is at least one volleyer at the net and here they are looking at two baseliners. So, there were great lobs and a lot of base shots.”

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