Whether it's been indoors at the Northwest YMCA or out in the sun at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center, the Ball State women’s tennis team has made Muncie home for success this season.
In addition to the team's perfect 11-0 record at home, the Cardinals have kept teams at bay, surrendering zero or one point in 13 matches this season.
“I hate losing more than anything,” said sophomore Isabelle Dohanics after losing her singles match in a close match-breaker in the team’s 6-1 victory over Oakland.
The raw passion to succeed is common with the whole team. Head coach Max Norris at one point said the athletes were almost "telepathic" with each other on the court.
Ball State's current 15-match win streak, which ties last year's win streak for longest in school history, began after a season-defining match in Cincinnati. The Cardinals fell to the Bearcats 6-1. Norris said he blamed himself for the loss.
Previous home records:
“I’m excited to move forward from here,” he said afterwards. “Every season I’ve been here, we’ve lost hard matches, we’ve won hard matches and that’s part of it. When you lose, you’ve got to find a way to move on and find a way to improve from it.”
That is what they did. The next two matches ended 6-1 and 7-0 in favor of Ball State. Two months later, they are still winning.
Even when matches became tougher as conference play went on, the team stayed solid and passed each test that came its way. A few members of the team in particular have impacted the magical run.
At the No. 1 and 2 single slots, sophomore Peyton Gollhofer and senior Carmen Blanco have justified their high spots in the team with strong performances in the conference. Blanco played in all matches of last weekend's championship and only lost one game right at the end to Akron.
“She focused in," said Norris earlier in the season. "She’s one of our smartest players. One of the most talented players in the whole league."
Gollhofer had a shaky start to the season after making her mark on the team during her freshman year. She lost three singles matches in a row in February. But her form, and her famous loud cries, returned in time for the MAC. She clinched the win for Ball State in two consecutive weeks against Miami and Akron.
Another player who has stood out this year has been sophomore Audrey Berger. Berger has been prominent during the doubles matches, exciting the home crowds with her fierce play at the net. Her singles record was what made her stand out. Out of a possible 22 matches, Berger was entrusted to represent the team in 16 singles contests. She never lost a singles match until two weeks ago against Miami.
The Cardinals turn their focus back onto the tennis as they prepare to host the MAC tournament starting on Friday. Senior Toni Ormond perfectly summed up the team’s mindset going into the end of season event.
“I don’t care who it is, I just want to win,” Ormond said.