The first home matches of the Ball State women’s tennis spring season bore positive results, as it topped Eastern Illinois 4-3 and 4-2 in Sunday's doubleheader. Playing two matches in one day calls for a long day, but head coach Max Norris felt his team was prepared.

“Doubleheaders are very common early in the season,” Norris said. “It was a grind of a day, but hopefully your team can show that they can physically endure, especially when they get later in the season. [In practice] we throw some things in there to test them conditioning-wise and I think that helped prepare us not only physically but mentally as well."

While both matches were closely contested, it was the doubles point that made a difference, essentially being the tie-breaker of the first match. The Cardinals took all six games in doubles play, blending experience in junior Peyton Gollhoffer with freshman Lilya Hadab.

“Lilya has a lot of skill and ability, as well as weapons for doubles and Peyton is a very smart doubles player, so she understands strategy and concepts and what to do in situations very well,” Norris said. “For me it was a no-brainer to put her with someone a little green … she can learn as she goes with someone very competitively tough.”

Singles play was a different story, as the two teams split the first match, 3-3. Norris attributes these matches to the team trying to find and establish an identity for the season, a problem he has faced before in his tenure at Ball State.

“In 2016 we kind of went through the same thing when we had five new players and this year, we have three," Norris said. "You could see that without question that there were times where they were figuring out who we are as a team. We were looking around and trying to see what we could expect from other teammates. I definitely think that’s something we need to get better at.”

Singles play in the second match was less dramatic, as Junior Audrey Berger clinched the win after she struggled in the first match. 

“I think that she might have put too much pressure on herself, thinking 'If I lose this match, then the team could lose this match,'" Norris said. "I think that's what was going through her mind. Her opponent was playing well and she made the match more important than it really was. In the second match, both her and her opponent were very tired, and I think she relied on her fitness and athleticism and just gutted it out.”

The Sunday sweep puts the Cardinals at 3-1 on the season, reeling off three straight after dropping the season opener. 

Ball State returns to action Saturday Feb. 3 as it travels to Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. The Raiders come in 2-3, having won their last two matches after a slow start. First serve is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

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