After playing its first two Big Ten matches last weekend, IU women's tennis has break from conference play.
IU will play No. 24 University of Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. Friday in South Bend, Indiana. IU then plays DePaul University at 10 a.m. Sunday in Bloomington, followed by a match at 5 p.m the same day against Miami University.
Ahead of these three matches, here are three things to know:
Playing Notre Dame on the road on Friday will pose a big challenge to IU. The Fighting Irish are 9-5 overall and 2-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. But their record could be much better if a few close matches had swung in their favor. Four of their five losses have been by one point.
Notre Dame lost 4-3 to the University of Kentucky, Northwestern, North Carolina State University and Syracuse University. IU has played two of those teams, , Kentucky and Northwestern. Both ended in 4-0 losses for the Hoosiers.
“We have nothing to lose,” IU head coach Ramiro Azcui said. “We have always had the tendency to play really well at Notre Dame. I’m excited for the opportunity with this team.”
More favorable matchups come on Sunday for IU. DePaul is 5-7 overall and 1-1 in conference. In its last time out, DePaul won its first Big East Conference match by beating Xavier University 4-3. IU defeated Xavier 4-0 on Feb. 2.
Miami is 4-6 overall and has yet to play a Mid-American Conference match. Azcui said he expects good results out of Sunday’s two matches.
IU began conference play last weekend with a 4-0 loss against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, but backed it up with a 4-1 victory over Penn State on Sunday in Bloomington. Now, the Hoosiers sit at 9-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
“I was very pleased with the effort against Northwestern, but we just have to keep figuring out a way to stay relentless for the entire match,” Azcui said.
Azcui said he thought his team played well on Sunday against Penn State, especially considering how tired they were from traveling home from Evanston late Friday night.
IU and Rutgers are the only two Big Ten schools that have played two conference matches already.
While IU has the upcoming weekend off from Big Ten play, many teams will play their first or second conference matches this weekend.
IU is alone at fifth in the conference standings. Nebraska, Ohio State, Maryland and Northwestern are all tied for first at 1-0. Wisconsin started the season 8-1 and holds the best overall win percentage among Big Ten teams, but has yet to play a conference match.
Consistency in pairings
This past weekend, IU used the same three doubles pairings in each of its two matches. With a roster full of newcomers and some players dealing with injuries, this trend hasn’t been common this season for the Hoosiers.
The three pairings used were senior Annabelle Andrinopoulos and junior Jelly Bozovic, senior Caitlin Bernard and freshman Alexandra Staiculescu, and senior Michelle McKamey and freshman Lexi Kubas.
Azcui said more doubles success will be key for this team as it gets into the heart of Big Ten play. Kubas' return from injury will help strengthen the team's doubles lineup. She played in her first back-to-back matches last weekend. The Connecticut, native has gone 2-1 in her doubles matches this season.
“Lexi adds a lot to the doubles lineup,” Azcui said. “It takes us to another level. We’re very happy with the doubles when she’s in.”