IU’s 4-3 loss to Purdue was a testament to how crucial the doubles point is in dual matches.
Junior Madison Appel and freshman Michelle McKamey cruised to a 6-2 win at the No. 3 doubles over Purdue sophomore Alex Sabe and freshman Seira Shimizu.
Junior Natalie Whalen and freshman Olga Zavarotnaya were leading at No. 1 doubles and sophomore Caitlin Bernard and freshman Jelly Bozovic were leading at No. 2.
Both tandems were unable to close their matches and lost their leads. Whalen and Zavarotnaya were unable to force a tiebreaker, losing to junior Silvia Ambrosio and sophomore Caitlin Calkins 7-5.
Bernard and Bozovic were leading freshmen Ena Babic and Zala Dovnik 5-2, and it looked like the Hoosiers were going to secure the doubles point.
The Boilermakers freshmen tandem clawed back in the match, and forced a tiebreaker. Purdue led the tiebreaker, 6-2, and Bernard and Bozovic got some momentum and cut the lead to 6-4, but Purdue closed it out, winning the tiebreaker 7-4.
IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said his team put themselves in a good position to establish the lead early in the match, but were unable to finish. He said IU fought all the way through, but a few points here and there that Purdue won changed everything.
Bozovic said it was upsetting and disappointing to lose the doubles point in that fashion.
“If we had won the doubles, we would’ve won today,” Bozovic said. “It came down to a few missed returns. If we had those balls, we probably would’ve won the match.”
IU went to the locker room briefly between doubles and singles. Azcui told his players to stay calm. He knew his players were mad, and he told them they need to go into singles with a new mindset and stop thinking about doubles.
IU freshmen picked up two of IU’s three singles victories. Zavarotnaya and Bozovic won in straight sets. Zavarotnaya beat Dovnik 6-4, 7-5, and Bozovic beat Calkins 6-3, 7-6, (7-4).
Bozovic picked up her first Big Ten Conference win of her collegiate career. Bozovic was up in the second set, but Calkins forced a tiebreaker. Bozovic was able to hold on and finish the match in two sets.
“I just stayed really focused,” Bozovic said. “I didn’t freak out like have in past matches when she started coming back on me. I was calm.”
Bozovic said it felt good to get a win, noting she was on a four-match losing streak. She said when she walked on the court, she was still pretty mad about the loss in doubles, but when she stepped on the line to take that first serve, she told herself she could not be mad and concentrate on playing singles.
Azcui said Jelly really stepped up, and there were moments where she was losing control of the match, but she fought back and found a way to win.
Azcui said this loss to Purdue hurts, but his team needs to focus on getting ready for the four Big Ten matches remaining.
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