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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Women’s tennis inches past Ball State

NIU Athletics
Sophomore Jenna Horne prepares to serve at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House. Horne sealed a 4-3 victory for NIU women’s tennis on Friday with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win in the final match of the day. (Courtesy of NIU Athletics)

NIU women’s tennis (15-10, 4-5 MAC) snuck past the Ball State Cardinals (7-14, 4-5 MAC) with a 4-3 victory to earn its fourth win in the MAC.

“The doubles got us off to a great start, we played well there,” said NIU women’s tennis head coach Eric Burns. “They absolutely gave us a beatdown in Muncie (Indiana) to start the MAC season and today we turned that around to get a good start, all in all, a great one.”

The Huskies took two of three doubles matches to win an early point over the Cardinals.

Junior Erika Dimitriev and sophomore Nataly Ninova defeated junior Ella Hazelbaker and sophomore Annika Planinsek by a score of 6-2. Junior Reagan Welch and senior Anastasia Rakita clinched the doubles point when they bested junior Elena Malykh and sophomore Sydney Hrehor in a 6-4 set.  

Senior Diana Lukyanova and sophomore Isabella Righi suffered a 6-4 loss against freshman duo Isabel Tanjuatco and Sarah Shahbaz. 

NIU split the singles matches, locked in a 3-3 tie with Ball State before the conclusion of the last match. 

Dimitriev defeated Shahbaz in two 6-4 sets. After a dominant 6-1 first set against Tanjuatco, Ninova lost a 6-3 second set before completing the win by taking the last set, 6-2. 

Lukyanova was shut down by Planinsek in a 6-2, 6-0 loss. Losing the first set 6-2, Righi came back and took a 6-2 win in the second set against Malykh. She then dropped a 6-2 third set for the loss. Welch was dominated by Hrehor by a score of 6-3, 6-0. 

The win was sealed for the Huskies by Horne, who won the first set against Hazelbaker 6-2. After going up 5-1 in the second set, Hazelbaker came back to even the score at 6-6. Horne took the tiebreaker by a score of 7-4, to win the second set 7-6. 

Horne explained the mindset in a match where the outcome dictates a team’s win.

“Obviously it’s nerve wracking,” Horne said. “The nerves got to me a little bit, but I just had to go out there and try my hardest and know that I’m not only doing it for myself, but for the team as well. I lost a couple games in a row and got really tight, but I started to realize that I had to do it for the seniors. It’s bigger than just myself, it’s for the team as well.”

Burns reflected on the season ahead of the season finale on Sunday.

“Let’s just finish our year up strong,” Burns said. “I think we’ve had a good year. We’ve left a couple out there that if we’d gotten, maybe we’d be in the tournament next weekend. With that being, we’ve had a good season, we’ve got a winning record, and we’re 4-5 in the MAC which is better than we’ve been in the past. Definitely an improvement from last year. Let’s see if we can finish up strong.” 

The Huskies play the last match of the regular season at 11 a.m. CT Sunday in Buffalo, New York, to take on the University at Buffalo. Live stats will be provided via iOnCourt.

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