Bloomington, Ind. - The move of Inga Radel to the number one singles position proved beneficial for the Indiana women's tennis team, as the seventh-seeded Hoosiers handed 10th-seeded Penn State a 4-1 defeat in the opening round of the Big Ten Championship on Thursday at the Indiana Varsity Courts.
The win improved the Hoosiers' record to 17-8 overall, while Penn State ended its season at 6-14 overall.
Radel, who has the best singles record of anyone on the Indiana roster at 28-3 overall, made her first appearance at the one spot in Thursday's match, and delivered the clinching performance with a 6-3, 6-2 win over the Lady Lions' Rebecca Ho.
"I have had some injuries, and even had to serve underhanded earlier in the year, but now it is fine," Radel said. "I started out at the five, and this was my first time at the one. I was a little nervous because it was a home game and my parents were here, but it went well."
IU head coach Lin Loring said moving Radel to the top spot in the singles lineup was not a hard decision.
"She has had some injuries to her arm, she had some bad shin splints and a bad back, but we have been moving her up every week," Loring said. "On the conference call that the coaches had, I told everyone that we were going to do that, and nobody questioned the move, so I guess they were all thinking the same as I was."
The Hoosiers started the match by claiming the doubles point behind identical 8-2 wins from the teams of Karie Schlukebir and Linda Tran at one and Martina Grimm and Amanda Field at three. The match at the number two doubles spot involving Radel and Dominika Walterova was retired with the Hoosier tandem leading Penn State's Judy Wang and Megan Marton, 4-3.
Singles play began with Grimm making quick work of Sarah Spence at the number six position with a 6-1, 6-2 decision. Not long after, Walterova followed suit with an identical 6-1, 6-2 win at five over Wang.
"I am very happy to see wins at five and six, because we haven't always done that well in those spots," Loring said. "One of the things that we stress is that when you have someone down, you have got to choke them. You can't let them back up, and sometimes we have a tendency to do that, but it was good to see those wins today."
With IU leading the match, 3-0, it was up to Radel, who closed the deal with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Ho.
"I think that is good for us. The sooner we are off the court, the better," Loring said of the relatively short match. "The fact that it was pretty short gives us 24 hours now to get in and get out of the training room before the 12:30 start tomorrow."
The Lady Lions were able to salvage one singles point, with Megan Marton downing IU's Linda Tran, 6-2, 6-1 at the number three singles position. Matches at the number two and number four singles positions involving Indiana's Amanda Field and Karie Schlukebir, respectively were abandoned in the third sets in both cases.
Indiana returns to action tomorrow in the second round of the Big Ten Championship when it battles second-seeded Wisconsin at 12:30 p.m. on the Varsity Courts. Should rain become a factor, the match will be played at 2:30 p.m. on the adjacent Indoor Courts.