Audrey Berger's undefeated season propels Ball State women's tennis
Audrey Berger just can't seem to lose.
The sophomore has won all 12 of her singles matches for Ball State women's tennis (16-2, 4-0 MAC) this season.
“Don’t jinx me!” Berger said after a 6-4, 6-4 win against Buffalo sophomore Sanjana Sudhir on Sunday.
Hometown: Upper Arlington, Ohio
2017 singles record: 12-0
2017 doubles record: 13-4
She’s won most of her matches relatively comfortably, but has also shown that she can go the distance and grind out the win under testing circumstances. Sudhir's style of play, for example, challenged Berger in the Cardinals' 5-2 win over the Bulls.
“Not terribly happy with my singles performance,” Berger said. “The way that my opponent plays, she gives a lot of off-pace balls and I can’t create my pace off of that and it was frustrating for me.”
Berger said she thought she was giving a lot of free points away and wasn’t feeling great about her backhand.
"But I found a way to pull it out," Berger said. "That’s what usually happens when I get kind of get down like that or when I’m not on top of my game. I just find a way to get it out.”
The majority of Berger's matches have been in the fifth and sixth flights. However, Berger was humble about the idea of moving up in the lineup — and head coach Max Norris said doing so would require moving someone else down.
“I think when you look at our lineup, I think you can see that everyone’s in the spot they’re in justifiably,” Norris said.
Even without Berger's 5-0 performance in the fourth spot this season, Ball State's third and fourth-flight players are a combined 24-7, and overall the Cardinals are 21-3 in singles play over their four Mid-American Conference matches. Ball State is also on an 11-match winning streak as a team.
Berger has also gone 13-4 in her doubles matches this season, including a 7-2 mark when partnered with junior Julia Sbircea. Starting with the doubles seems to benefit Berger the most. Against IUPUI on Feb. 19, her father called her “an animal at the net." Berger certainly seems to have evolved in that regard with her piercing, powerful forehand technique doing wonders up the court and around the net.
However, Berger and her partner for this weekend’s doubles matches, sophomore Isabelle Dohanics, ran into some issues with killing the match at the first opportunity, instead having to play tiebreaks against both Bowling Green and Buffalo.
“Sometimes, I try to be too perfect or I get too excited about a shot that I can put away and I’m not balanced right or won’t control it well enough,” Berger said. “I think I can take some pressure off myself and just look at it as another point and I think that would help a lot.”
Berger isn't the only player who, as Norris put it, “cares too much” about the game. He used that label for the rest of the team, considering it a positive trait that reflects how much the women want to win.
It's part of why the Cardinals have won 11 straight — and why Berger is undefeated so far this season.
Ball State's next match is Friday against Eastern Michigan at Cardinal Creek Tennis Center at 1 p.m.