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The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

Indiana women’s tennis ends losing streak, goes 1-2 in 3-match weekend

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Indiana women’s tennis entered Thursday disappointed. Hard fought games over the past three weeks resulted in five consecutive losses. But in the eyes of head coach Ramiro Azcui, his team was nearing that fateful victory. 

“We’re so close,” Azcui said Saturday. “It’s not like we’re not being competitive ... I just want them to keep their heads up and keep going at it.” 

Over the course of three matches in three days, Indiana displayed the competitiveness Azcui referenced with tight losses against the University of Memphis and the University of Colorado. It wasn’t until the final match of the weekend that the Hoosiers tasted the success they craved, annihilating Ball State University to finally return to the win column.  

The first test for Indiana began Thursday against a Memphis squad touting a 5-3 record. With the aid of entirely new doubles partnerships, Indiana was able to break its recent trend of starting slow by winning its first doubles point since its match against Chicago State University on Jan. 21. Redshirt junior Lara Schneider and sophomore Nicole Teodosescu won a tight match 7-6 (7-4) while freshmen Sarah L’allier and Li Hsin Lin secured a narrow 7-5 victory. 

The close nature of the doubles matches was a sign of things to come. However, contrary to how the doubles matches played out, Memphis squeaked out the results. 

Schneider fought valiantly against Memphis senior Camila Soares but came up short 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Graduate students Saby Nihalani and Lene Mari Hovda had similar results, losing 6-4, 7-5 and 6-1, 6-3, respectively. Freshman Magda Swierczynska fell in three sets, granting Memphis its fourth point after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat.  

As has been the case for much of the season, freshman Elisabeth Dunac was Indiana’s lone bright spot in the singles matches. After winning the first set 7-5 over junior Emily Meyer, Dunac dropped the second 6-3. With all to play for in the decisive final set, the Hoosier secured the only singles win for Indiana with a 6-4 set win. 

Indiana’s Saturday doubleheader in the Adidas Classic began with Colorado, a team riding a five-game winning streak. Momentum was on the Hoosiers’ side, however, as they attained the doubles point after Azcui chose to stick with the successful pairings from the Memphis matchup. 

“We’re very happy with the last combinations that we’re trying,” Azcui said after the Colorado match. “We were struggling getting the doubles point, and winning the last two against two good schools definitely gave us the right combination.” 

Schneider and Teodosescu — newly appointed as No. 1 doubles — won 7-6 (7-3) and L’allier and Lin finished off a 7-5 victory shortly after, granting Indiana its second consecutive doubles point. 

Competitive matches continued into the late morning with both teams hoping to secure the victory. Colorado senior Aya El Sayed and junior Mila Stanojevic were quick to begin, securing victories at nearly identical times. El Sayed defeated Schneider 6-2, 6-4, and Stanojevic followed with a 6-3, 6-3 sweep over Nihalani. 

A 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) defeat for L’allier left the Hoosiers in a deep hole, down 3-1. That hole was ultimately too big to escape as Hovda suffered a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 loss at the hands of Colorado graduate student Alexandra Abyasova. 

The match of the morning, however, was found on the No. 4 singles court. Indiana’s Dunac faced off against junior Betina Tokac in a fiery contest that ultimately went unfinished. 

Tokac drew first blood after dominating the first set 6-0, and she seemed to be on her way to another painless set victory after taking a 4-1 advantage in the second set. Dunac, visually frustrated, sat down and received a pep talk from Azcui. 

“I just reminded her, ‘This is what you’ve been practicing [for], we need you,’” Azcui said. “We did not talk about X’s and O’s. We talked about the motion, the positives, the energy and using the crowd, and all of a sudden, she turned it around.” 

After the break, Dunac stormed back with a 7-6 (8-6) second set victory, but with all to play for in the crucial third set, the match was declared unfinished as Colorado had won their fourth point. 

Despite the anti-climactic ending, the match was filled with fireworks. The crowd Azcui encouraged Dunac to utilize was raucous, celebrating every Hoosier point with over-the-top cheers and hollers. By the end of the match, the bleachers were filled with spectators, including members of the Indiana men’s tennis team. 

The cheers weren’t simply encouragement for Dunac but also as a response to the scenes playing out on the court. Throughout the match, Dunac expressed her irritation with Tokac’s decisions on balls that were close to being out. The issue became so extreme that a line judge was brought in, but even still, it persisted. The Buffalo was eventually issued a point penalty in the decisive second set tiebreaker after her out call was overturned by the line judge, giving Dunac two critical points on the one play. 

Following the loss to Colorado, Indiana prepared to face Ball State. In nine matches dating back to 2006 against the Cardinals, the Hoosiers had yet to lose. That didn’t change Saturday.  

Indiana quickly gained the 1-0 advantage after Schneider and Teodosescu made quick work of their opponent 6-1 while L’allier and Lin capped off an impressive three win weekend with a 6-4 victory.  

The timeliness of the doubles continued into the singles as many of the matches finished within an hour. Teodosescu was the first Hoosier to claim victory after jumping out to an early 4-1 lead before her opponent retired due to injury. Dunac jumped out to a quick 6-0 first set thrubbing and led 3-0 in the second before her opponent was also forced to retire with an injury. 

The clinching match for Indiana fell to Lin, who overpowered her opponent 6-1, 6-0 and brought the Hoosiers their first victory since Jan. 21. 

Looking ahead, Azcui and his squad hope to build off the momentum and achieve a victory over Cornell University with the Big Ten regular season slate on the horizon. 

“This next match against Cornell is big for us because we really want to carry that momentum going into Iowa, our first home Big Ten match,” Azcui said after the Ball State match. “Overall, I’m pretty happy … They’re competing and bringing that energy, and that’s all I can ask for.” 

The match against Cornell will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 25 at the IU Tennis Center in Bloomington.

Follow reporter Mateo Fuentes-Rohwer (@mateo_frohwer) for updates through the Indiana women’s tennis season.

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