BY ALEC RUNYAN / Ball State Sports Link
Ball State tennis player Emma Peeler’s optimism in difficult situations has come in handy during her first two years in Muncie.
A sophomore from Cleveland, Peeler started her career at Ball State with a 7-5 record last spring while playing most of her matches at No. 2 singles.
This year she’s playing No. 1 singles amongst a very competitive roster.
“We’ve really focused on not taking anything for granted. Other MAC teams have gotten cut, like Akron just got cut this year. So it kind of put everything into perspective for everyone,” Peeler explained.
After last spring season ended abruptly, Peeler has seen other conference programs suffer from the repercussions. Leaving her and the rest of her team grateful for this season more than usual.
Not only does Peeler feel fortunate to have a season this spring, the Cardinals also return all seven members from last year’s team. Ball State had one of its best starts ever in the 2019-2020 season going 10-2 as a team in dual matches.
Along with the seven returning players are four new members all looking for opportunities.
“We have 11 girls this year so you know that actually pushes us a lot. Last year we had seven and with the tennis team like going from seven to 11 is a big jump and I think it’s made everything a lot more competitive,” Peeler said.
When it came to making her decision on college, Peeler knew she wanted to go somewhere that would challenge her. After seeing what the program accomplished under head coach Max Norris in recent years, she knew that would be the case. Along with her urge for improvement, Peeler felt connected immediately with her future teammates.
“Meeting the girls on the team is what really sold it,” Peeler says. “Everybody just had that cohesive, team mentality which was cool to see.”
Between BSU’s tremendous start to last season and the competition in practice, Peeler’s expectations have increased for 2021. For herself, that means improving on what was already a winning record a year ago she says.
As for the team, the obvious goal is winning a MAC championship.
“I think it’ll definitely be a different element, just because you know you’re all competing for that conference championship,” Peeler explained.” So I think it’ll be a lot more intense but I’m excited for it.”
Although Peeler isn’t familiar with MAC competition yet, she has had her fair share of close matches already. Four of her five losses as a freshman came down to a third set.
With the experienced gained in those close matches last season, Peeler feels better prepared than her freshman season.
“I can definitely feel a lot more relaxed, a lot more confident in my abilities this year so I’m hoping that this year that will look very different on my record,” says Peeler.
For Peeler and the rest of her teammates one thing is for sure. They won’t take this season for granted.