Ball State women’s tennis (8-2) is hitting its stride as the end of non-conference play draws near. Since the loss at home to James Madison on Feb. 3, the Cardinals have stayed the course to put together this win streak which stands at seven matches after Sunday’s wins in their doubleheader.
“We’re just taking it day-by-day,” assistant coach Rifanty Kahfiani said. “Every day is a great day to keep improving [and] get better. I think that’s the goal.”
Kahfiani stepped in for head coach Max Norris today, who was not with the team. She wanted to utilize the opportunity to get everyone a chance to play, and she did just that. Across the two matches, everyone got slated to play at least once.
The first match of the doubleheader was the Dayton Flyers (6-4). After taking the doubles point, third-year Masha Polishchuk played a familiar foe in Dayton’s Natalie Osiecki. They faced off back in September during the Bethany Moore Invitational. Osiecki is a player that brings a lot of energy to each match she plays in, no matter who it’s against, even if it’s the Cardinals’ number one singles player. Polishchuk knew before the match even started that she had to keep her cool and stick to her game, and it led her to a 6-4, 6-3 win.
“It was my goal to not react to whatever she did, it’s really easy to get frustrated,” Polishchuk said. “I knew that if I did, there would be some not-so-good consequences for me. I was really just focusing on myself, and I knew that there were people cheering for me.”
Fourth-year Emily Desai was slated to play sixth singles. Usually, a doubles player, Desai picked up a nice 6-4, 6-2 win, which helped Ball State pick up a 6-1 win.
After about an hour break in between, the Eastern Illinois Panthers (4-7) strolled into the Northwest YMCA. Kahfiani took advantage of the team’s depth in this match in particular.
Second-year Ella Hazelbaker played her second doubles match of the season and picked up a 6-1 win alongside fourth-year Amy Kaplan. Second-year Elena Malykh and Desai earned a close 6-4 win in the first doubles to kick off the scoring for Ball State.
Hazelbaker also made her first start in singles this season, as she played on the sixth court. She dominated, and was the first match to finish, winning 6-3, 6-0. Also making her second start in singles was fifth-year Allison Mulville. She took care of the fourth court 6-0, 6-3.
Jessica Braun and Emma Peeler both won their matches and Desai was back at it again, this time playing third singles. She won 7-5, 6-1. All in all, it stacked up to another 6-1 win for Ball State and a long day on the courts.
“The most important thing is to acknowledge [before] that it is a long day and that it’s going to be tough,” Polishchuk said. “It’s about preparing yourself mentally, knowing that you have to be here and grind out here. It’s about not thinking about how long it is, and thinking about the process.”
Polishchuk also added that it was a chance for her to keep working on aspects of her game. As conference play nears, Ball State has a chance to hit the ground running when Mid-American Conference matches begin.
“It’s always great to have that momentum, and going to Butler, I think we have great momentum,” Kahfiani said.
The Cardinals will face off with the Bulldogs Friday, with it being the last home non-conference match of the season. First serve is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.