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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

IU picks up first conference win against Minnesota

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IU did something it hadn’t done since 2016 — win a Big Ten conference match at home.

The Hoosiers beat Minnesota 5-2, snapping a three-game losing streak and giving IU its first conference win of the season. 

IU played on the road at No. 6 Illinois, at No.5 Northwestern and at Michigan State to start conference play. Unable to steal a road win, the Hoosiers needed to defend home court against the Golden Gophers. They did just that.

IU’s doubles have been 0-3 in Big Ten play, and doubles was one of this group’s strengths. IU Coach Ramiro Azcui decided to go with a different doubles lineup against Minnesota in hopes of getting different results.

Azcui decided to pair Junior Madison Appel with freshman Jelly Bozovic in the No.1 doubles spot, sophomore Caitlin Bernard and junior Natalie Whalen in No. 2 doubles and freshmen Michelle McKamey and Olga Zavarotnaya in No. 3 doubles.

“We wanted to give the doubles a different look,” Azcui said. “We were looking a little stale lately. I just wanted to give them a little spark. Last night around 8, I sent a text to everybody letting them know the doubles lineup. We haven’t practiced any of those doubles.”

The lineup change led to good results for IU, winning the doubles point rather quickly. Appel and Bozovic won 6-3, and McKamey and Zavarotnaya won 6-2. 

IU came out with great energy in doubles, and it carried over to singles. 

Appel, Bernard, Whalen and senior Xiwei Cai won in straight sets. Whalen beat Tina Kreinis 6-3, 6-3; Cai defeated Barbara Mancera 6-3, 6-3; and Appel clinched the match when she beat Caroline Ryba 7-6 (7-2), 6-1. Bernard beat Annemarie Emme 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.

Bozovic and Zavarotnaya lost at No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Zavarotnaya has the only win in Big Ten play for the freshmen. She won her singles match at No. 6 Illinois.

Azcui said it felt good to be home, especially coming off such a tough stretch of the season. Minnesota is a strong program, and Azcui said he was happy and proud of the team for winning.

IU played in front of one of the smallest and quietest crowds of the season. Azcui sad the crowd was not as energetic as it normally is, and his players had to find it within themselves to be able to win. 

Cai had not gotten a singles win since early March, losing her past two matches at Illinois and Northwestern. 

“She’s played some good tennis all season for us, but at times she just has not gotten the results,” Azcui said. “I’m very happy for her winning today. Sometimes, it takes a match or two to realize what you need to. Being a senior, her last month of competition is coming up, and I just want her to enjoy it and keep that energy.”

Azcui said those losses to start conference play will help this team going forward because it made them realize they can play with anybody in the country. Azcui said his team will continue to focus on taking care of themselves and bringing the energy needed to keep winning.

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