Tennis seeks win over UA to close regular season

Leighann Sahagun returns a volley in a match against Sacramento State on March 2. Because of injuries, Sahagun has moved up in the Sun Devils’ order and will be a large contributor when the team faces UA this weekend. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

The ASU women’s tennis faces its final challenge of the regular season: rival UA in Tucson on Friday.

The No. 37 Sun Devils had a short week of practice following a split weekend when they lost to Utah and defeated Colorado.

“After losing to Utah, pulling through that match against Colorado really helps,” coach Sheila McInerney said.

Because senior Sianna Simmons and sophomore Jacqueline Cako were out for the tournament, ASU started down by two points both days.

Simmons’ injury ended her season, but McInerney hopes Cako will be able to play against UA.

“It would be great if Jacqueline could play singles for us, but it’s something where we’ll have to wait and see how she’s doing on Friday,” McInerney said.

Playing with a short roster doesn’t set the team up for success.

“This has been difficult,” McInerney said. “In all my years, I’ve never played with four healthy kids.”

Setbacks aside, the team is excited to play its local rivals and traveled to Tucson on Thursday to practice.

“The courts and situation in Tucson is different, so we’ll do some hitting to get ready for the match,” McInerney said.

The No. 27 Wildcats defeated both Utah and Colorado 7–0 last weekend. The last time UA defeated ASU in a season-ending match was in 2004.

McInerney said the team knows UA is out for a comeback.

“We have to play our best to win,” she said. “There is really no margin for error.”

As the regular season nears its end, McInerney said she is proud of how her team has played.

“It’s been a difficult year, but the kids have competed well and I’m looking forward to playing UA,” she said.

Since the season started, freshmen Leighann Sahagun and Joanna Smith have advanced from the No. 5 and No. 6 positions to No. 3 and No. 4. Freshman Clare Frye, who hadn’t played in most of the season, filled in one of the spots when Simmons and Cako were injured.

“Through some of the injuries we’ve had, the freshmen have really been able to come of age and play with confidence,” McInerney said.

Smith and Sahagun played instrumental roles in the win, clinching doubles matches against Colorado last weekend.

Play begins on Friday at 1 p.m. in Tucson.

“This season has been great,” McInerney said. “Overall, the players and coaches have made coming to practice every day fun. Hopefully we can win tomorrow and keep going. The year’s not over yet.”

Reach the reporter at dkmcinty@asu.edu

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