IU is 6-0 for the first time in five seasons.
In the 2012-2013 season, IU started 8-0, and this year’s team is close to attaining that record.
IU beat Marquette 6-1 and Cleveland State 7-0 in Saturday’s doubleheader at the IU Tennis Center.
Unlike the last time the Hoosiers faced Marquette a season ago, IU took the doubles point and a 1-0 lead.
Freshman Olga Zavarotnaya and junior Natalie Whalen won 6-3. Junior Madison Appel and freshman Michelle McKamey earned another 6-3 victory and sophomore Caitlin Bernard and freshman Jelly Bozovic won 6-2.
IU followed up its doubles victory with strong performances in singles.
McKamey took down sophomore Lesley Foe 6-2, 6-1 to put IU up 2-0.
Appel put the Hoosiers a point away from a securing the dual after she beat senior Paula Tormos Sanchez 6-3, 6-3 to give IU a 3-0 advantage.
As the results show, Appel played well, but she struggled with her serve at times throughout the match.
In the third game of the first set, Appel double faulted on her serve twice.
“My serve is definitely the shot I’ve been working on the most this season so far,” Appel said.
The ball toss is solid, but Appel said she works on jumping up toward the ball and landing her racquet on it stronger to get spin on the serve.
“When I have my balance and I’m shaping the ball well that’s when I’m hitting my best serves,” Appel said.
Appel has played in the No. 1 singles position since her freshman year.
In every singles match Appel has played, she has faced the best player on the opposing team.
Appel said she did not expect to be in the No. 1 spot as a freshman, and that was challenging for her, but now she is used to it.
“I’ve adapted to the whole position and who I’m gonna be facing,” Appel said. “I’ve done a better job with being more comfortable in this role and trying to step up as best I can each year.”
Senior Xiwei Cai missed last weekend’s dual matches against Cincinnati and Xavier due to an injury; however, she was back in the lineup as the No. 4 singles player.
Cai won her first set on a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-5) and won the next one 6-3.
Cai said she was focused on playing smart because she is recovering from injury. She attributed her win to aggressive play and minimizing mistakes.
IU had a 1-0 lead on Cleveland State before the match even started. Cleveland State only had five players in their lineup, so the No. 6 singles position had to forfeit.
Whalen and Zavarotnaya won 6-3 and Appel and McKamey won 6-3 in doubles to earn another point for IU.
Appel, Whalen, Bernard, McKamey and Zavarotnaya each won their singles matches.
“I see the improvement every week,” Azcui said. “We challenged them this week to have a better practice than last week, and they stepped it up. We are excited to see they are improving day by day and match by match.”
The three freshmen are a combined 13-1 in singles. McKamey is 6-0, Bozovic is 5-0 and Zavarotnaya is 2-1.
Azcui said he is proud of the way his newest players have contributed to the team’s success.
At least two freshmen have been used in the lineup for all of IU’s victories this season.
Azcui believes depth is the area that will continue to be a strength for IU as the season continues.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
The Hoosiers lost to Illinois for the second time in three days.
Mallory coached at IU from 1984 to 1996.
The Hoosiers had two more qualifiers for the NCAA Championships on day two of the NCAA Prelims on Friday.