Isabelle Dohanics hits the ball to the other side of the court during the match against Buffalo on April 2 at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center. Terence K. Lightning Jr., DN File
Women's Tennis: NCAA Championship berth, all-time winners, highlight seasons
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Though the program began in the 1977-78 season, 2016 and 2017 were the best seasons on record for Ball State women's tennis.
Under current head coach Max Norris, who will enter his sixth year in 2018, Ball State earned its first-ever berth in the NCAA Championships. The team fought its way to the big stage with a perfect 4-0 victory over Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship match in 2016.
Ball State didn't last as long as it would've liked once it reached the national tournament, falling 4-0 to the Big Ten's Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Despite what looked like a lopsided loss on paper, the six Cardinal singles competitors all took at least one game from their opponents.
That highlight season marked some other notable achievements for the program. Women's tennis reached 22 wins and won the MAC regular season title, feats never before accomplished in the team's now 40-year history. Norris earned MAC Coach of the Year honors for his team's performance, the first time a Ball State women's tennis coach had done so since 1995.
The Cardinals weren't done setting records, though.
A follow-up performance the next season saw Ball State capture another MAC regular season championship. The team's 8-0 conference record that season was the first time the Cardinals had ever finished without a blemish in their conference record.
Norris' .728 winning percentage (86-32) is by far the best mark for a coach in program history.
Next on that list is Kathy Bull, who led the program for 21 years (1988-2008), the longest tenure by a coach the team has ever seen. During that span, she tallied a 233-210 mark, which is the highest mark reached by a coach and accounts for over half of the program's 431 wins.
Norris and Bull account for two of the six coaches Ball State women's tennis has ever known.
On the court, one student-athlete leads the program in both singles and doubles victories: Lisa Drewitt. In her career, Drewitt (1994-97) amassed marks of 102-40 as a doubles competitor and 98-58 in singles competition.
Lisa Barg (1993-96) made quite the impact both on and off the court. She earned the honor of 1996 NCAA Woman of the Year, an award that recognizes classroom excellence, on the court performance and community service. She was just the second Ball State student-athlete to earn the award. Barg finished her career with an 88-49 singles record, the fifth-most wins in school history.
Despite the team's slight dip to an 11-11 record in the 2017-18 season, Ball State will look to make its second-ever appearance in the NCAA Championships when Norris and company begin their 2018-19 campaign.