Win streak continues for Ball State women’s tennis with 4-3 victory against Youngstown State

Freshman Isabel Tanjuatco hits the ball Jan. 10 during practice at Muncie YMCA. Andrew Berger, DN
Freshman Isabel Tanjuatco hits the ball Jan. 10 during practice at Muncie YMCA. Andrew Berger, DN

Ball State women’s tennis won its second match of the row to earn its second win of the spring season with a 4-3 triumph against Youngstown State. At the Northwest YMCA in Muncie, Indiana, this victory came down to an unlikely hero, freshman Isabel Tanjuatco, stepping up to decide the third set in her victory.

Before singles play began, no. 1 singles player Annika Planinsek was pulled out of the lineup due to concussion protocol. Head coach Sachin Kirtane said Planinsek was hit in the head during her doubles match and was feeling lightheaded afterward. 

Although Planinsek finished the No. 1 doubles contest alongside fellow sophomore Sydney Hrehor, the Cardinals lost 6-4. Kirtane said it is unclear if she has a concussion at this time, but after concussion protocol, she will not be playing in the Feb. 17th tournament in Bloomington, Indiana, until she is assessed further Feb. 19.

Despite the loss in No. 1 doubles, Ball State started off strong in doubles play; No. 3 doubles pairing Tanjuatco and freshman Sarah Shahbaz dominated against Youngstown State 6-2.

“We've been able to put a strong foot forward,” Tanjuatco said. “It felt really good to just come out here and start playing.”

Although they had a strong start, the Cardinals ultimately lost the doubles point after falling at No. 1 doubles, and at no. 2 doubles juniors Elena Malkyh and Ella Hazelbaker fought to go to a tiebreaker, but lost 7-6 (2).

Once singles play began, the fierce competition continued between Ball State and Youngstown State.

At No. 1 singles, Malkyh battled in her match but couldn’t find her footing. She lost 7-6 (4), 6-1. At No. 5 singles, Hazelbaker lost 6-4, 6-2.

At No. 2 singles, Shahbaz dominated her opponent, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. At No. 3 singles, Hrehor won 6-3, 6-2. Sophomore Jacqueline Pearsall battled for a win at No. 6 singles 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. 

Ball State women's tennis head coach Sachin Kirtane watches his team practice Jan. 10 at Muncie YMCA. Kirtane was previously the coach at Mississippi State. Andrew Berger, DN

At this point, the Cardinals and the Penguins were tied at 3-3. All eyes were on Tanjuatco, who was in her third set. 

“Throughout the fall, [Kirtane] put us at a lot of different spaces in the lineup,” Tanjuatco said. “So I was like, ‘I've done it before. I've been here, and my team needs me, so I need to step up.’

“It was just having that confidence to just keep going. I think that's definitely what pushed me to stay in it.” 

Tanjuatco fought hard and won against her opponent 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.

“I honestly feel like it was probably the most confident I've played,” Tanjuatco said.

She said a huge factor in her confidence was the support that she had from everyone cheering her on, especially her teammates.

Kirtane said he is incredibly pleased with the Cardinals’ hard work against the Penguins, especially with the deciding match coming down to a freshman.

“For her to exhibit such calmness and trust herself on big points, that's amazing,” Kirtane said. “This [win] is special because of the way  most teams would have folded today after what was dealt to us. So for [my team] to step up and put us on the board like that was tremendous.”

Kirtane mentioned that he has been seeing improvement from Ball State and he takes pride in the Cardinals’ accomplishments even with it being his first season as head coach.

“I'm seeing that the little things that were happening a month ago are not happening as much,” Kirtane said. “I think that's why we're succeeding now.”

Kirtane said even though they're coming off of two straight wins, the Cardinals are preparing for some tough matches ahead at the Indiana Adidas Classic tournament. He said both teams they face Feb. 17-- University of Colorado at 2 p.m. and Indiana University at 6 p.m. -- will give them a challenge.

Contact Lauren Graham via email


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