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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

Hoosiers travel to Michigan State this weekend

Then-sophomore, now senior Madison Appel serves the ball during a women's tennis doubles match against West Virginia in March 2017. 

IU could grab its first Big Ten Conference win and hand Michigan State its first home loss Friday. 

The Hoosiers, 12-5, head into East Lansing, Michigan, 0-2, in conference play after losing at No. 6 Illinois and No. 5 Northwestern. 

Michigan State is 10-4 overall and 6-0 at home. The Spartans are 1-1 in conference, beating No. 21 Nebraska on the road to open up Big Ten play.

Last year, IU lost to Michigan State 5-2. The Spartans won the doubles point in last year’s contest, and IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said the doubles point will be huge in this year’s match. 

Doubles has been consistently strong for IU, but the Hoosiers were unable to secure the doubles point against Illinois and Northwestern. 

“We were making too many unforced errors in doubles,” Azcui said. “My emphasis this week is to worry about us. We need to get back to doing the things we have been doing well all season long.”

Depth is another strength of IU’s that has lacked in the pair of games. Azcui has utilized all three of his freshmen — Jelly Bozovic, Michelle McKamey and Olga Zavarotnaya — in singles and doubles throughout the season. Bozovic is 9-4, McKamey is 11-4, and Zavarotnaya is 6-0 in singles. 

Zavarotnaya is 1-0 in conference play, beating junior Grace Tapak at Illinois, but she was not in the singles lineup against Northwestern. Bozovic and McKamey are a combined 0-3 in conference play, with Bozovic losing both of her conference matches and McKamey losing at Northwestern.

“All three freshmen are engaged, and they are strong,” Azcui said. “We need to get some production from them. They need to be able to produce for us.”

IU lost both of its conference matches 6-1, and it will need its freshmen to earn points against Michigan State to leave East Lansing with a victory. 

Sophomore Caitlin Bernard has the best singles record on the team, with 13 wins and four losses. Bernard’s 13 wins are more than she had last season, and she has 10 regular season matches remaining. She finished the 2016-17 campaign 12-13. 

“Last year I was coming back from my knee injury,” Bernard said. “I built on everything I learned from last year and matured as a player. In the tight moments of matches, I think I’m overcoming everything better.”

Bernard said she did not feel 100 percent until this past summer, and her level of play last season was not close to where she said she knew it could be. She said she had to keep a positive mindset and keep competing.

Bernard’s consistency has been a key part of her ability to win this year. She is able to stay in the point a lot longer and read what her opponent is going to hit quicker than last year. Bernard said her instinct on the court is a lot faster overall. 

Bernard is still seeking her first singles win in conference play this season, along with junior Madison Appel and senior Xiwei Ca. Junior Natalie Whalen got a win over the No. 85 singles player junior Lee Or at Northwestern. 

IU will play Friday at Michigan State followed on Sunday by a matchup with Minnesota, 11-6 (3-0), at the IU Tennis Center in what will be IU’s first home match of conference play.

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