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IU took care of Cornell, but fell at Princeton


Junior Natalie Whalen eyes a forehand during her 6-1, 6-4 singles loss to the University of Tennessee on Feb. 11. IU lost to Princeton on Feb. 25, 5-2. Sam House Buy Photos

IU was off to its best start in seven years after defeating Cornell on Friday at the Reis Tennis Center in East Ithaca, New York, improving to 10-2.

Despite sophomore Caitlin Bernard and freshman Jelly Bozovic losing their first doubles match of the season, IU managed to win the doubles point after junior Madison Appel and freshman Michelle McKamey won 6-2 and junior Natalie Whalen and freshman Olga Zavarotnaya won 6-4. 

IU followed up its strong start in doubles by winning five of six first sets in singles. 

Whalen, Bernard and McKamey won in straight sets to clinch the match with a 4-0 lead.

Whalen and McKamey both picked up a singles win after dropping their last two matches to Tennessee and Notre Dame. Whalen defeated sophomore Ananya Dua 6-1, 6-0, and McKamey won 6-4, 6-4.

Appel, Cai and Zavarotnaya played their matches, even though IU already secured the win.

Appel took down senior Priyanka Shah 6-4, 6-4, and Zavarotnaya beat Michelle Wang 6-3, 7-6.

Senior Xiwei Cai lost to freshman Cheyenne Lilienthal 7-5, 6-3, and IU finished the dual with a 6-1 victory.

The victory gave IU Coach Ramiro Azcui’s program its best start since the 2010-11 season.

“I’m so happy for the players,” Azcui said. “They have put in hard work to get to this moment. They believe in themselves, and it is showing.”

After beating Cornell, No. 25 Princeton was waiting for IU.

IU’s results were very different against the Tigers, losing 5-2 on Sunday.

Princeton took an early 1-0 lead after securing the doubles point. IU was in a tough spot, needing four singles victories against the 25th ranked team in the country. 

The Tigers picked up three victories at No. 1, No. 4 and No. 3 singles to win the match.

Azcui said his team had a hard time adjusting to the speed of the court. Princeton’s surface is different than any other surface IU has faced this year, and that was a big factor in IU’s struggles.

His team had one practice on Saturday for 90 minutes, and that was the only chance IU had to get used to the speed of the surface.

“Give credit to Princeton.” Azcui said. “I think they will win the Ivy League. I don’t think we played as good as we did against Notre Dame last weekend, and we had a lot of unforced errors."

Appel lost her first singles match of the season to senior Katrine Steffensen 6-3, 6-1 to move to 9-1 on the year. Appel had beaten players from Cincinnati, Xavier, Tennessee and Notre Dame, but Princeton ended her undefeated start to the season.

IU got both its points from freshmen. Bozovic beat sophomore Gaby Pollner 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-4), and Zavarotnaya defeated sophomore Tiffany Chen 7-6, 7-5.

Zavarotnaya, who was injured earlier this season, won both of her singles matches this weekend.

“The freshman as a whole are stepping it up,” Azcui said. “I am glad Olga is getting back to feeling and playing 100 percent. She is another example of the depth of our team.” 

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