Sophomore Michelle McKamey was on the court farthest from the home crowd Sunday at the IU Tennis Center, but IU Head Coach Ramiro Azcui was there to hug her when she clinched the team win over Michigan State.
McKamey fell behind in the first set of her No. 5 singles match before winning it 6-3. The sophomore then battled in a back-and-forth second set she ultimately won 6-4 to give IU the go ahead point and the 4-1 lead.
The Hoosiers, 12-7 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play, recorded the win over the Spartans following a loss on the road Friday. IU traveled to Minneapolis to play Minnesota before heading back to Bloomington to take on Michigan State.
The Golden Gophers extended their winning streak to five consecutive matches with a 4-3 win over the Hoosiers. Minnesota’s streak would end Sunday on the road against Michigan, but Azcui was impressed by his first opponent of the weekend and his team’s first showing on the road in conference play.
“Hats off to Minnesota," Azcui said. "They played really well when they needed to most. I think for us it was still a great performance on the road. We competed well and that’s what we always ask for. Any time you go on the road in the Big Ten, it’s tough.”
McKamey and freshman Somer Henry fell at No. 3 doubles, but IU rallied from behind to take the opening point. Senior Madison Appel and sophomore Jelly Bozovic came back from down 5-2 to win 7-5 at No. 1 singles, clinching the doubles point for IU.
Appel and Bozovic also picked up wins at No. 1 and 4 singles, respectively, but Minnesota won in straight sets on the other singles courts to narrowly win the team match.
Two days later, IU was back on its home court looking to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Feb. 17 and 23. The Hoosiers came out strong in doubles and took the early 1-0 lead.
Appel and senior Natalie Whalen looked their normal selves at No. 1 and 2 singles, but IU struggled early on the other courts. McKamey and Henry found themselves playing from behind early on, but they’d eventually cruise to straight set wins.
“Jelly, Michelle and Somer were down in the first set and they all responded well,” Azcui said. “Madison and Natalie are not only stepping up on the court, but they’re also providing great leadership. Playing No. 1 and 2 singles in the Big Ten is not hard, and I know they’re doing a great job.”
When IU defeated Michigan State 5-2, it was the fifth time this season it had won its match following a loss. Outside of their three-game losing streak in February in which they lost to three top-50 ranked opponents, IU is undefeated in 2019 playing after a loss.
Two of Azcui’s biggest points of emphasis – contending on the road and rebounding from losses – were on display this weekend. With the team’s next five matches on the road, Azcui said the team will need to stay sharp during its toughest stretch of the season.
“We always tell them they need to be resilient, they need to go out there and fight for every match,” Azcui said. “I think they’re listening. They’re believing it, and it’s going to keep paying dividends for us. We’re a tough team and we’re going to have to be on the road.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
Langford is the fifth Hoosier in the last 10 years to get the invite.
Fineman is the second player to officially sign a deal.
Here are four sports to pay attention to during the 2019-20 season.