IU did not get the start it wanted, but the Hoosiers climbed their way back to victory over Cincinnati and Xavier.
IU dropped two doubles matches to Cincinnati, and the Bearcats took the doubles point. IU trailed for the first time this season, down 1-0.
Junior Madison Appel and freshman Michelle McKamey lost 6-4, and junior Natalie Whalen and sophomore Emma Love were tied with their opponent at 6-6, but they lost the tiebreaker 7-5, and Cincinnati clinched the doubles point.
IU headed into singles play needing four of its six players to win their singles matches against a talented Cincinnati lineup.
“After we ceded the doubles point, I told the players two things: don’t panic and direct your anger in a positive way,” IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said. “They were all upset, and I wanted them to come out in singles and settle down and just play our game.”
Sophomore Caitlin Bernard responded with a dominant performance against freshman Alexia Coutino, winning 6-1, 6-0, and evening the overall score 1-1. McKamey gave IU a one-point advantage when she took down junior Antonella Bramato 7-5, 6-2.
In the No. 4 singles spot, it was a freshmen battle between Jelly Bozovic of IU and Emma Miceli of Cincinnati. Bozovic delivered, winning 6-4, 6-4, and earned a crucial third point for the Hoosiers.
IU was one point away from winning the match, and it was up to Appel in the No. 1 singles spot to clinch the victory.
Appel found herself down early when she dropped the first set 6-4 to freshman Ioana Guna. Winning the second set 6-0, Appel was not rattled by her first-set loss. In the third set, Appel found her rhythm, and she won 6-4, giving IU the fourth point it needed to win the dual match.
“Everyone comes out strong against her,” Azcui said. “They come on fire. She did a great job of not getting angry and playing well for us. Her win was huge.”
With wins from Appel and Bernard in the No. 1 and 2 spots, and Bozovic and McKamey in the No. 4 and 5 spots, IU showed its depth with both ends of the lineup earning points for the Hoosiers.
Nearly two hours after its victory over Cincinnati, IU faced another strong tennis program in Xavier.
This time, IU got the doubles point.
Bernard and Bozovic won 6-3 and IU appeared to be in control of doubles, but freshman Olga Zavarotnaya and Whalen lost 6-3.
Appel and McKamey’s match would determine if IU got the doubles point, and they won 6-3 to give IU a 1-0 lead.
The Hoosiers lead briefly until Bernard lost 6-3, 6-2 to junior Sophia Abelson, and the dual was tied at 1-1.
Xavier would only earn that one point, while IU amassed five more.
Whalen defeated senior Lauren Ghidotti 6-3, 6-3, Appel took down freshman Ahmeir Kyle 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Bozovic beat sophomore Rachel Reichenbach 7-6, 6-3, securing an IU victory with a 4-1 advantage.
Having already clinched the win, McKamey still finished her match, defeating senior Elizabeth Bagerbaseh 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, and Zavarotnaya beat sophomore Lauren-Fitz Randolph 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, making the final score 6-1.
“They’re two really good teams we beat today,” Azcui said. “In order to get ready for Big Ten play, we have to win matches like this. For them to come out after two hours of recovery time and play the way they did was impressive.”
For the first time this season, all three freshmen, Bozovic, McKamey and Zavarotnaya, were used in singles play against both Cincinnati and Xavier.
The freshmen went a combined 5-1 in singles play during Saturday’s doubleheader. Azcui said he was very impressed with the freshmen’s ability to contribute points in both matches.
Bozovic is 4-0 in singles, not dropping a set in either of those matches.
“She is a tough competitor,” Azcui said. “She is a fighter, and it shows every match. When she has some struggles and moments here and there, she finds ways to keep competing and believing in the process.”
IU went a combined 9-2 in singles throughout the day.
These two wins pushed IU's record to 4-0 on the season.
“Our team gutted out some of these wins,” Appel said. “They weren’t easy wins. We came out with good energy, and even when momentum wasn’t going our way we shifted that.”
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