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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

IU drops its second Big Ten match to Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. — It didn't take IU long to enter the toughest part of its Big Ten schedule.

IU had to face the top two teams in the conference, Illinois and Northwestern, to start Big Ten play. 

IU fell 6-1 at No. 5 Northwestern on Saturday, after falling to No. 6 Illinois by a five-point deficit last weekend. 

The Hoosiers came out sluggish, and Northwestern quickly took the doubles point, winning 6-0 at the No.1 doubles and 6-1 at the No. 3 doubles.

IU is 30-12 in doubles play this season, and one of its biggest strengths has been winning that first point.

“I don’t think we played doubles at all the way we know how to play doubles,” IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said. “We just came out really flat.”

IU responded well after losing the doubles point, playing singles with energy. 

The IU players constantly said “Let’s go IU,” and “Go Hoosiers,” throughout the entire match.

Juniors Madison Appel and Natalie Whalen and sophomore Caitlin Bernard played ranked opponents in their singles matches. 

Appel faced No. 50 senior Erin Larner, Bernard played No. 58 senior Maddie Lipp and Whalen played No. 85 junior Lee Or. 

Whalen defeated Or 7-5, 6-3, which provided IU with its sole point of the match. 

Whalen had some rough stretches earlier this season, losing to Marquette, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee and Notre Dame in about a two-week span. 

Azcui said he was proud of her leadership throughout her rough start to the season.

“We are thrilled for her to get a win like that,” Azcui said. “To be able to do that in her hometown, that is an awesome feeling.”

A Chicago native, Whalen said this match was more of a homecoming than it was an away match.

The crowd at Northwestern was the biggest crowd IU had seen all year, and a lot of those spectators were Whalen's family and friends.

“Because everyone was watching me, it didn’t rattle me,” Whalen said. “I was very comfortable and felt like I was playing at home. I’ve been here so many times.”

Whalen said she was glad her rough swing of games came during the nonconference portion of the schedule because that part isn't as important as conference play. 

“We had a pretty big team meeting yesterday to discuss what we can do individually to help the team,” Whalen said. “One of mine was trying to maintain focus. I think that focus really helped me improve my play and see positive results in this match.”

Freshmen Jelly Bozovic and Michelle McKamey both lost in straight sets in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, but Azcui said he is glad his freshmen got a taste of what the Big Ten is about. 

Azcui said his team needs to realize they are capable of winning Big Ten games, and they are close to doing what they need to do to win.

“To start against the top two teams in the Big Ten is tough, especially on the road,” Azcui said. “We got to bounce back. We are looking forward to more.”

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