Tennis battles back at Las Vegas tournament

Senior Michelle Brycki returns the ball during the 17th annual Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe on Nov. 4. Brycki beat Duke’s Mary Clayton on the singles court during the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships in Las Vegas. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)

It wasn’t easy, but the Sun Devils stayed strong and won multiple matches at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships in Las Vegas.

Many of the top teams in college tennis were represented at the tournament, which lasted from Friday to Sunday, and the competition was fierce.

“It was a tough tournament,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said. “Every match was grueling.”

Freshman Leighann Sahagun recorded the only Sun Devil victory on the first day of play.

She defeated UNLV’s Anett Ferenczi-Bako 6-0, 6-1.

Saturday proved to be more successful as the team picked up five victories.

The pair of senior Sianna Simmons and junior Hannah James defeated the hometown UNLV pair of Ferenczi-Bako and Rumyana Terzieva 8-1 to advance to the finals.

Senior Michelle Brycki and freshman Joanna Smith recorded a victory, defeating Patricia Skowronski and Sofia Hager of the University of Oregon in the consolation quarterfinals.

On the singles court, Brycki came back from her Friday loss to beat Duke’s Mary Clayton 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-5.)

“Michelle had a good tournament,” McInerney said. “She had three tough matches and won two. The one she lost was to the girl who won the tournament.”

Simmons also notched a victory in singles.

Simmons took down Valeria Pulido of USC in a hard-fought three setter, going 6-4, 2-6, 7-6.

On Sunday, the Sun Devils finished the tournament with two more victories.

Brycki continued her success from Saturday and defeated Chanelle Van Nguyen of No. 5 UCLA, 6-4, 6-3 in added singles matches.

On the doubles court, the pair of Sahagun and junior Nicole Smith defeated USC’s pair Zoë Scandalis and Pulido, 9-8.

“This tournament will really help going into next weekend,” McInerney said.

The Sun Devils start the dual season by hosting UC Davis at Whiteman Tennis Center on Saturday.

McInerney said she and the coaching staff would review the doubles pairs and focus some practice on doubles matches to prepare for UC Davis.

After a few weeks apart, McInerney said she is happy with the team’s chemistry and attitude.

“The kids worked hard over the holiday,” McInerney said. “They all had tough matches and (ate) dinners together this weekend and are happy to be back together.”

The next step is to adjust to playing as a team, rather than as individuals.

“We’re looking forward to the dual season,” McInerney said. “It’s not about you, it’s all about the team.”

Reach the reporter at dkmcinty@asu.edu

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