Junior Courtney Earnest waits for a serve during the doubles match against Butler for the Fall Dual on Sept. 20 at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center. Breanna Daugherty // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State women's tennis hosts Illinois State, Wright State
Ball State’s women’s tennis is looking to build off of its season-opening win in its two matches this weekend at the Northwest YMCA in Muncie.
On Feb. 4, the Cardinals face Illinois State. The began their season last weekend with two matches, winning 4-0 against Western Illinois but falling 6-1 to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Ball State has never served a ball against Illinois State but coach Max Norris made sure to do his research.
“They have a new coach, I think she’s in her second year, but she’s already done a really good job of adding a lot of new players,” he said. “They’re in the Missouri Valley. I would think this year, if they’re fully healthy, they’ll be in the top half of their league for sure.”
On Feb. 5, Wright State University rolls into town. The Raiders have had a mixed start to the season (4-3), but Norris noted that “they play really good doubles” and have a team filled with experienced seniors.
“There are two good matches for us, for us to get challenged and each of them present a different kind of challenge,” Norris said.
Even after a promising victory against Dayton (6-1) last week, Norris points out that there are still things to work on.
“I think a lot of our players played really well," Norris said. "You can see some of the scores yourself that some of the matches where our players did a good job handling their business. I think for some people maybe they let a couple games slip away here and there and just kind of stuff to learn from.
“We’re definitely just trying to continue to strengthen our double pairings, trying to keep activated and ready because this weekend and obviously beyond, I want to be able to use everyone on our team and utilize our depth.”
Two matches in two days is the norm for tennis, and sometimes teams play three in a row over a long weekend.
“When you have two matches, especially this early in the season when we’re still trying to learn about people, even people who are returners who you know from last year but you want to see how they have improved this year,” Norris said. “I think it’s important to mix in everyone the best you can. You’re more thinking about the long term of how do I keep everybody involved and how do I keep people experience that will help them later down the road.”
First serve on Feb. 4 will be at 4:30 p.m. against Illinois and on Feb. 5, balls will fly at 1 p.m. at the Northwest YMCA in Muncie.