Ball State women's tennis seemed like it was feeling better, both on the outside and inside.
The Cardinals beat Evansville 6-1 Saturday and followed it with a 7-0 win over IUPUI Sunday, one week after losing 5-2 to Cincinnati.
“I think, probably, the role that [assistant coach Tessa Lyons] and I might have played is just letting them know that we needed to move on, letting them now that sometimes you need to lose,” head coach Max Norris said. “It’s about dealing with adversity and expecting it and learning from it as opposed to ‘things are always great.’”
Ball State got off to a great start by winning all three doubles matches against Evansville Saturday. Norris said the players came out with a positive attitude and “got on Evansville early,” which helped them to get the doubles point. Julia Sbircea won her doubles 6-2 with Audrey Berger by her side, and also won her singles match.
“I feel like we have such a deep team that it doesn’t really matter who plays because all of them will go out there and try to win and do their best," Sbircea said.
On Saturday, she was hitting the ball hard and true from the baseline and this carried through to Sunday, where she dispatched her opponent in the singles 6-2, 6-3 after coming through a tie-break in the doubles with her partner Rosa Calderon to win 7-6 (5).
“It felt good to be back," Sbircea said. "It was a little rocky at times, just getting used to everything that was going on but I realized what I needed to do and did it."
Berger also had a great weekend, matching Sbircea’s record. Berger’s family travelled from Columbus, Ohio, to see her play and they certainly chose the right time to visit. In her singles against IUPUI Sunday, she came out of the blocks strong with powerful shots and good movement to keep her opponent, Mariella Pessina, in the dark. She faced some fight from Pessina in the second set but came through 6-1, 6-4 in the end. She made such an impression in her doubles play that her dad called her “an animal at the net.”
“I love it when my family comes out and I’m glad they can,” Berger said. “They were there for a lot of my junior and high school matches. It just kind of takes the pressure off me a little and makes it feel at home so it was really great.”
Her family, like all the fans in support, were fortunate to see the Cardinals play outside this early in the season. On Sunday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and with a cool breeze blowing through the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center on campus, it was a perfect day for tennis and a 7-0 Ball State victory over IUPUI.
“I usually play half a year inside, so playing outside, especially in February, is like a privilege and I love it,” Rebecca Herrington said. She had a 6-0, 6-0 singles victory against IUPUI’s Marina Schneiger.
Peyton Gollhofer's fortune turned around, as she ended a six-match losing streak (including singles and doubles) with three wins over the weekend. Norris said the margin between victory and defeat is narrow, so the losses didn't necessarily reflect Gollhofer’s performance. Nonetheless, she was happy with the results. On Saturday, her infamous shrieks and cries were louder and gutsier as she battled to doubles and singles victory.
“It felt so good. I’m so relieved. I could actually breathe," Gollhofer said. "Like at the end of the match I just like exhaled and my whole body just relaxed."
Isabelle Dohanics won her singles on Saturday 7-5, 6-4 and competed alongside Toni Ormond for both of her doubles wins. Ormond was the only Cardinal to play singles and doubles both days, and although a 4-0 record would suggest no problems, her singles victory on Sunday came with its troubles. She dropped the first set 6-7 (2) and admitted to giving away a few easy points. Norris stayed on the sidelines of her first set and said he used some stern words in the tiebreaker to encourage Ormond back to her best. She went on to win the contest 6-7 (2), 6-2, 1-0 (4).
Carmen Blanco had a solid couple of days as well. She lost her Saturday singles match but won her doubles that day, as well as comfortable 6-1, 6-2 singles win in the sun at Cardinal Creek to round off her weekend.
Next up for the Ball State women’s tennis team is a home match against Youngstown State at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. If the weather remains nice, they'll play outdoors at Cardinal Creek. For now though, the Northwest YMCA is looking like the safer bet.