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IU women’s tennis can respond with win over Purdue



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The IU women's tennis team huddles Feb. 19, 2017, before a morning match against University of Notre Dame. IU will play Nebraska on March 29. IDS file photo Buy Photos

IU women’s tennis has been in this position before.

The Hoosiers, 13-8 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play, will attempt to rebound from a loss for the eighth time this season. IU has lost consecutive matches just twice in 2019.

Following a 4-3 loss at Iowa on March 31, IU is set to play its lone match of the weekend against rival Purdue at noon Saturday in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The Boilermakers, 6-11 overall and 1-5 in conference play, recently broke a 10-match losing streak with a 4-3 win on March 31. IU Head Coach Ramiro Azcui said he can’t help but ignore those glaring statistics.

“When you play Purdue, you have to throw all the records and numbers away,” Azcui said. “I think it’s a matter of who’s going to want it more.”

The last three matchups between the Hoosiers and Boilermakers have seen the road team on the winning side. The trend is in IU’s favor this weekend, but at the end of the day, it’s another challenging road match.

“I mean, hopefully we can continue that,” Azcui said. “I’ll use anything I can to have an edge over Purdue. Being on the road this many weekends has not been easy.”

The Hoosiers will rely on energy, experience and leadership from seniors Madison Appel and Natalie Whalen in what is likely their final match against the team’s biggest rival.

“Both teams somehow find a lot more fire in them to compete, so we can’t expect them to just show up,“ Whalen said. “It’s always a big emotional experience for each team because we know the pressure of playing a rival. That never goes away regardless of what year you are.”

Playing on the road this season has certainly given IU struggles, but it will only help them prepare for the Big Ten Tournament and potentially the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship.

“The road trips in general have been pretty exhausting,” Whalen said. “It’s a lot more difficult to bring a lot of energy playing on the road because you don’t have fans and everyone is cheering against you. It’s a lot more difficult,but it’s nothing our team can’t handle.”

Whalen and the Hoosiers will take on the Boilermakers at noon Saturday at the Schwartz Tennis Center.

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