Senior Rosalinda Calderon serves the ball during the doubles match against Butler for the Fall Dual on Sept. 20 at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center. Ball State women's tennis opened its season with a 7-0 loss at No. 2 North Carolina Saturday. Breanna Daugherty // DN File
RECAP: Ball State women’s tennis vs. Akron
Ball State women's tennis proved why it was voted Female Team of the Year at the Chirpies by beating Akron 4-3 and winning back-to-back Mid-American Conference regular season championship titles.
Not only did they put an end to Akron’s 22-match win streak, but the Cardinals themselves matched last year’s record of 15 consecutive wins.
“The thing I was thinking about all week was, ‘Only great movies have sequels,’ and I just wanted to make sure that our sequel was more 'Godfather II' than 'Caddyshack II,'” said head coach Max Norris.
Right from the start, in the doubles matches, one could sense the importance of the match.
Unfortunately for Ball State (20-2, 8-0 MAC), the weight was too much to bear for sophomore Audrey Berger and junior Julia Sbircea on court 4 as they fell 6-1 to the Zips’ pairing of junior Carli Knezevich and senior Karolina Makismova.
On court 5, Akron (23-3, 7-1 MAC) was held back by sophomore Peyton Gollhofer and senior Carmen Blanco as they beat a junior team of Ariadna Blinova and Sophia Geier 6-3.
On court 6, sophomore Isabelle Dohanics and senior Rosa Calderon were locked in a tight match with Zips senior Shannon Newnes and freshman Rita Pedroso, which had to be decided through a tie-break. In the end, it was the Zips who would strike first in the title-decider as they beat the Cardinals’ pairing 7-6 (3).
Ball State turned the match around with two relatively quick wins from Berger and Dohanics. On court 4, Dohanics swept past Newnes 6-3, 6-0. On the court beside her, Berger got back to winning ways by beating fellow sophomore Luisa Echeverry 6-2, 6-1.
Berger said her and Dohanics' attitudes and minds just weren't in the right place.
"Their team did play really well, but I think there were a lot of things we just let keep happening over and over again, instead of making an adjustment and doing something about it,” Berger said.
This put the Cardinals into the lead but the Zips were back on level terms thanks to a win for them in the No. 1 contest. Geier got the better of Blanco this afternoon and beat her 6-1, 6-3, evening the match at 2-2.
After being down 5-1 in the second set, senior Toni Ormond mounted a comeback to win the match in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6 against Pedroso on court 1. This left the crowd with two matches to watch and both went the distance.
Calderon couldn’t capitalize on good starts in both the first and second set in her 6-7, 6-2, 2-6 defeat to Knezevich. The senior also needed a medical timeout in the third set.
This left the match poised at 3-3 and all heads turned toward court 2. Gollhofer and Blinova were locked in a marathon match that was by far the loudest this afternoon. Blinova took the first set but Gollhofer fought back to win the second, which meant the destination of the MAC regular season trophy would be decided in their third set.
Both teams’ entire season eventually depended on the outcome of a single deuce point when the match was 6-5 in favor of Ball State. Luckily for the home team, the ball dropped behind the baseline and the celebrations began. Gollhofer had beaten Blinova 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 and had secured a second successive title for the Cardinals.
“I trust myself, and I know my teammates trust me so it was fine,” Gollhofer said of her win.
The season is far from over. The victory today also ensured that the Cardinals would be heading into next week’s MAC tournament as the top seed. Ball State is also hosting the event, which starts on Friday. The draw for the competition will be announced this week.