Last season’s meeting between IU and the University of Notre Dame’s women’s tennis team was hectic.
The Hoosiers were coming off their first loss of the season. They fell at home to a then 8-0 University of Tennessee squad. On Feb. 18, the Hoosiers traveled north to face the Fighting Irish, who were on a two-game losing streak at the time.
Both schools were looking to get out of their respective ruts, but only one could. IU had match point at one point, but Notre Dame stormed back to capture a thrilling 4-3 team win.
“Ever since then, we’ve been looking ahead, and as much as I don’t like to do that, it’s hard not to,” senior Madison Appel said. “That was a tough one to lose, it was pretty hard on all of us. We had the match in our hands, and it was kind of just let go.”
This year the in-state rivalry will come to Bloomington, where the Hoosiers have won four straight matches after dropping their season opener.
Notre Dame won its first three matches of 2019 before losing to No. 16 Ohio State last weekend. At 3-1, the Irish are hungry to get one back in the win column. Before playing IU on Sunday, Notre Dame will play at Illinois on Friday.
The Sunday morning match is sandwiched between two matches against teams IU has never faced, James Madison University and Saint Louis University.
James Madison sits at 3-1 a season removed from a 21-4 campaign. The Dukes have won at least 17 matches in their last three seasons. IU finished with 17 wins last season for the first time since 2014. James Madison will make a pit stop Friday night to play Miami University.
Saint Louis, on the other hand, is 2-3 to start its season. The Billikens dropped their first three matches of 2019 but strung together consecutive wins last weekend at home. Saint Louis can extend its winning streak Friday afternoon at Bowling Green State University.
In preparation for IU’s second three-match slate in a row, Appel said the key for the team this weekend will be health and discipline.
Last weekend, the Hoosiers put on a clinic at home with Appel playing at No. 1 singles and doubles for the first time since she recovered from the flu. While IU went 18-0 and dropped three total sets at singles, the senior felt she wasn’t playing her best tennis.
“I didn’t play my best,” Appel said after losing just seven games in singles play last weekend. “But I’m also a perfectionist, so I did play well enough to win. It felt really good to be back with the team in a dual match.”
Appel and IU take on James Madison, Notre Dame and Saint Louis this Saturday and Sunday at the IU Tennis Center.
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