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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

IU to take on Iowa and Nebraska this weekend

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IU plays a team that no Hoosier on the roster has ever faced Sunday. 

When IU plays Nebraska, it will be IU Coach Ramiro Azcui’s first contest against the Cornhuskers at the helm of the Hoosier tennis program. 

The last time IU faced Nebraska in 2015, nine of the 10 players on IU’s roster were in high school, and senior Xiwei Cai was on Southern Illinois University’s roster.

Azcui said there is uncertainty heading into a match against a team his players have never faced, but he does not think the uncertainty is a disadvantage.

“We don’t know anything about Nebraska’s players, and they don’t know anything about us,” Azcui said. “The scouting report on paper is not the same as playing against somebody in person and seeing it for yourself.”

The Cornhuskers, 13-4 (2-2), are a top-40 team in the country, checking it at No. 36 in the most recent ITA Collegiate Tennis Division 1 Women’s National Rankings.

Nebraska started conference play with an emphatic road win over then-ranked No. 19 Ohio State. Azcui said Nebraska is playing extremely well, and it has the results to prove that it is a top program in the country.

IU has taken on the underdog role, and junior Natalie Whalen said that mentality is motivation for her and the rest of the team to prove people wrong.

“We know we are good enough, but not everyone else does,” Whalen said. “We have the confidence, and we need to get the results and show everyone else, ‘Hey, look, we are good, too.'”

While IU does not know if it is a good or bad thing its current team has never faced Nebraska, Whalen said she and her teammates will go into this match with the same goals as any other — win and compete their hardest.

Before IU plays Nebraska, IU hosts Iowa on Saturday.

Unlike Nebraska, IU is familiar with Iowa, splitting a pair of matches with the Hawkeyes last season.

The Hoosiers lost to the Hawkeyes 6-1 in the regular season, but IU beat Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament 4-3. 

“The people who are coming back from last year know what’s coming for them,” Whalen said. “Getting the freshmen in the right mindset — that will be huge in winning this match. For these bigger schools, sometimes we drop off a little and give them more credit than they deserve. We need to get in the mindset that we are good enough, and we need to carry that confidence on each court.”

Iowa has a doubles team ranked top-50 in the country. Senior Anastasia Reimchen and sophomore Elise Van Heuvelen are the No. 47 ranked tandem in collegiate tennis. 

Azcui has said all year that winning the doubles point is huge, but it is critical in Big Ten match play. In IU’s last match against Minnesota, Azcui kept the same six players in the doubles lineup, but he moved around the teams.

This weekend, Azcui said he would like to see a spark again in doubles play, and he will adjust the doubles lineup as he deems fit to put IU in the best positon to win doubles.

“This weekend is gonna be a dogfight,” Azcui said. “It’s gonna come down to who wants it most.” 

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