Ball State women’s tennis (19-3, 8-1 MAC) honored its seven seniors April 22 in its final home match of the 2022-23 season.
Jessica Braun, Isabelle Behrman, Emily Desai, Amy Kaplan, Emma Peeler, Allison Mulville and Livia Lukacs were all recognized before the match for their efforts over the last four and five years.
“I’ve been here for a long time, this is my fifth year, and it just means a lot to represent Ball State, and to be there for my teammates,” fifth-year Livia Lukacs said. “I’m very grateful to see my teammates get recognized. I’m grateful I got to be here and see them play today.”
Lukacs was a staple on the Cardinal teams that won back-to-back MAC championships in 2021 and 2022. After suffering an injury in the pre-season, Lukacs has been out for the entirety of the 2023 season. With that said, she’s found a way to help out the team. Every match she’s walking around each court, encouraging her teammates and coaching them through the valuable experience she has.
“It was time for me to step up into a different scenario and situation, and to be there for the team,” Lukacs said. “I’m just glad that I can do that, and support them.”
The Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-7, 3-6 MAC) presented challenges for the Cardinals in the home finale. The doubles point saw three extremely close matches. On court two, Mulville and third-year Masha Polishchuk pulled out a 6-4 win. Desai and Braun did the same on court three to give Ball State the doubles point.
In singles, second-year Elena Malykh wasted no time on court six. It took her just 55 minutes to win her match, and she dropped just one point in the first set. She won 6-0, 6-1. Polishchuk took care of her match on court one by a score of 6-3, 6-1.
Peeler won a hard-fought match at third singles by a score of 6-3, 7-5, as she ended her senior day on the right note. First-year Annika Planinsek needed to win a tiebreaker in the second set to claim her match on court five. She ended up winning 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).
The win gave the Cardinals their sixth in a row as they are marching toward the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. They’ll finish out the regular season Sunday on the road against Miami (OH) and have already locked up the second seed in the tournament. Miami is a team that will also be competing for the top spot in the MAC tournament as well. Ball State will be getting one more test before the most important part of their season begins. Lukacs said the team's goal is simple in these final weeks of the season.
“We’re going to just continue to get better, and aim to peak during the tournament,” Lukacs said. “If we stick together and play at our best, then I think we have all the chances to perform great.”
Despite filling in for head coach Max Norris, who was placed on administrative leave Feb. 27, graduate assistant coach Rifanty Kahfiani was unable to coach Ball State in the matchup. Kahfiani said that she was not able to coach the match due to a mix-up with her visa. The Daily News requested to speak with any member of the coaching staff following the match, but Ball State Sports Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Paula Haughn told the Daily News that coaches were not available for comment and there would only be interviews with two of the graduating players, but only Lukacs was made available for an interview.
Contact Caleb Zuver with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @zuves35