Ball State women's tennis loses its second match in a row, falling to Cleveland State

Freshman Sarah Shabaz looks to serve the ball Jan. 10 during practice at Muncie YMCA. Andrew Berger, DN
Freshman Sarah Shabaz looks to serve the ball Jan. 10 during practice at Muncie YMCA. Andrew Berger, DN

Editor's note: This article has been edited to fix a spelling error and to change an incorrect score.  

Freshman Sarah Shahbaz stood with her head in her hands after the ball she served landed on the wrong side of the net for the second attempt in a row. 

Her opponent had just gone up 2 games to 1 in the first set against Cleveland State. 

2 games later, Shahbaz fell 4 to 1, prompting her to swing her racket into the wall twice. She shook her head, murmured something under her breath and got back to the game. 

The score quickly became 6-1 and Shahbaz had lost the first set. She walked to the bench upset, again opting to hold her head in her hands.

She began to regain her footing in set 2, which led to her having a 5-2 advantage over her opponent. 

“I think I played a lot smarter, I took my emotions out of it, and just tried to focus on keeping the ball where it needs to go,” Shahbaz said.

However, Shahbaz gave up this lead resulting in a back-and-forth tiebreak that lasted 12 minutes.

Shahbaz came out on top, leading into another tiebreaker in place of a third set. This tiebreaker went for 20 minutes, with Shabaz just falling short with a score of 12-14. 

This was the story for the Cardinals today in their 1-6 loss, frustration.

“Part of it is because they care so much,” head coach Sachin Kirtane said. “That's why this happens, and for me as a coach, I would much rather see that, than just go through the motions and act like it's okay.” 

In singles play, sophomore Sydney Hrehor argued with her opponent throughout, later picking a fight with the line judge.

At the beginning of her second set, emotion overcame Hrehor. She became visibly upset and vocally tore herself down after points.

After losing 3 games straight, she broke. Hrehor picked herself back up, winning four games, but ultimately would lose the second set, 6-4. 

Sophomore Annika Planinsek won the first set over her opponent with some fight but lost the second 7-5. This prompted her to throw a tennis ball at the wall which echoed throughout the courts. 

Junior Elena Malykh serves the ball Jan. 10 during practice at Muncie YMCA. Malykh registered a 13-4 mark in dual play. Andrew Berger, DN

Although frustrations and tensions were high, it did not stop the Cardinals from cheering each other on and sending encouragement to one another.

“It makes me feel like I'm not alone out there,” junior Elena Malykh said.

Malykh won her 1st set 6-4, but lost her 2nd set in a tiebreaker 7-6(5).

She was the final match to conclude and won the 3rd set tiebreaker 10-8, with all of her teammates cheering her on.

“It's always an amazing feeling,” Malykh beamed. “I just want to personally win and kind of show everybody that we can do it because it gets very tough, but you know they're out there and they're supporting you.”

Kirtane maintained that his team played well and has improved since their previous match at Purdue.

“[Today,] we just couldn't handle our emotions,” Kirtane said. “They do all the right things, but like I keep telling them that's a start; that doesn't guarantee [a win].”

Ball State women’s tennis will next play Sunday, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. at Notre Dame.

Contact Trinity Rea via email at or on X@thetrinityrea and Lauren Graham at


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