Ball State women's tennis hosts pair of opponents over weekend

<p>Senior Julia Sbircea hits a backhand during her doubles match against IUPUI on Feb. 19, 2017. <strong>Emma Rogers, DN File</strong></p>

Senior Julia Sbircea hits a backhand during her doubles match against IUPUI on Feb. 19, 2017. Emma Rogers, DN File

Arguably one of the biggest gauges of success in sports, especially at the college level, is the development of the players. 

For Ball State women's tennis, it's all about freshmen Victoria Sec and Lilya Hadab and the meaningful sets the pair has overcome. Head coach Max Norris is pleased to see them handling these situations so early in their careers. 

“One thing for Lilya and Victoria is that they’ve really balanced their emotional energy,” Norris said. “They’ve definitely had their ups and downs, but I think you can see every day in practice and also on their faces when they’re competing that they’re hopeful and excited. In a pressure moment, it’s easy to get down on yourself after the match, but I think they’ve remained positive.”

He pointed to Sec’s match against Bowling Green a couple of weeks ago as reference to how his young players perform when the spotlight is on them.

RELATED: Ball State women's tennis drops to 0-2 in MAC play after pair of weekend losses

“When Victoria was on the last match against Bowling Green and didn’t come out on top, you could look at it like that,” Norris said. “Or you could look at it as she fought hard, she found a way to win a set when she was down 2-5 … or when she was down 4-0 in the third set, she found a way to win two of the four next matches instead of just giving up. Obviously, she still has room to grow, but she’s not giving in or giving up.”

As far as looking at the team in a broader scope in terms of last week’s game against Eastern Michigan, Norris felt there was room to improve in singles play, especially out of the gate. 

“We had to fight through some adversity in the doubles point, and I think we did that very well,” Norris said. “We didn’t have great starts in singles and I think that was definitely a negative across the board … I can’t say [last week’s match] was a step forward or a step back, it’s kind of up to [the team] to compartmentalize what just happened and try to learn from it and move on.”

This weekend, Ball State will compete in a pair of matches at home Friday against non-conference foe Northern Iowa (3-8, 0-1 MVC), followed by a Mid-American Conference tilt against Toledo (11-5, 1-2 MAC). Despite playing two teams from two different conferences, coach Norris doesn’t see his game plan changing much from game to game. 

“I think at this point we are so focused on ourselves, and taking strategic risks and being physical, and most importantly sticking together as a team and having fun," Norris said. "At this point in the season, you want to do that against anyone you play … when you hit a rut, whether you’ve been winning or losing, you’ve got to focus on those things internally.”

The Cardinals will enter this weekend with a 7-8 record, 0-3 in MAC play. First serve against Northern Iowa is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday, while Sunday’s match against Toledo has a 1 p.m. start.

Contact Chance Iles with comments at cwiles@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @ChanceIles.

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