Tennis senior Hein to compete at Riviera Championship

(Photo by Annie Wechter)

The ASU women’s tennis team will send one player, senior Micaela Hein, to the Riviera ITA All-American Championship in California Tuesday.

The tournament, which runs from Tuesday through Oct. 10 in Los Angeles, offers the first opportunity for a singles or doubles title in the 2010-2011 season.

“It’s an honor to be able to play in this tournament,” Hein said. “It’s a very prestigious tournament.”

The tournament is held at the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Qualifying draws are Tuesday and Wednesday, and the main draw is Thursday through Sunday.

“Other than the NCAAs, this is probably the strongest tournament in the country,” ASU tennis coach Sheila McInerney said.

Last year, Hein was accompanied to the tournament by teammates senior Kelcy McKenna, who was invited this year but will not attend, and Nadia Abdala, who graduated in May.

“It’s based on how you did the previous year, and obviously Micaela had a good year last year, so she’s rewarded by getting into the tournament,” McInerney said.

Hein finished strong last season and qualified for the NCAA Singles Championships before getting knocked out in the second round.

McKenna and freshman Jacqueline Cako were also invited to the tournament but will not be attending. McKenna is a student teacher and is not able to miss teaching her class to travel to the competition, while Cako is still recovering from an illness.

Although Cako won’t make the tournament, it is an accomplishment that she was invited.

“Normally, for any of the young ones, it is hard to get in,” McInerney said.

In the prequalifying round that ended Sunday, 64 players competed in six rounds for eight spots in the qualifying draw.

“Whoever she plays, it will be a very difficult match because this is one of the best tournaments in the country,” McInerney said.

Hein did not have to compete in the prequalifying round but will be seeded 12th in the qualifying singles.

Hein will first compete against Jillian O’Neill from Georgia Tech.

O’Neill was one of the eight women to make it through the prequalifying draw, and defeated Florida freshman Sofie Oyen in the final round of the prequalifying singles, 7-5, 6-2.

“I’m expecting her to be very good, and I’m probably going to have to play my best tennis to beat her,” Hein said.

The tournament is a single elimination with a consolation round. Whether Hein wins or loses Tuesday, she will play at least two matches.

Hein has already started off her season successfully. She placed second in doubles play at the Cal Nike Invitational with partner McKenna. The duo fell 8-5 to the No. 1 seeded doubles team from California, Jana Juricova and Mari Andersson.

Juricova is favored to win this year’s Riviera ITA All-American Championship tournament. She advanced to the singles semifinals in last year’s tournament and also became Cal’s first ITA National Indoor Champion last season.

Reach the reporter at nklauss@asu.edu