The ASU women’s tennis team defeated NAU 6-1 Saturday, but it was closer than head coach Sheila McInerney would have liked it.
“I think overall we need to get better,” McInerney said. “I thought we struggled and I’m actually a little bit surprised.”
The Sun Devils started strong by winning the doubles point with the pairings of senior Nicole Smith and freshman Ebony Panoho winning by a score of 8-3 and freshmen Desirae Krawczyk and freshman Stephanie Vlad won 8-1.
Sophomores Joanna Smith and Leighann Sahagun were winning their match 6-5 but did not finish because ASU had won two of the three doubles matches, securing them the points.
ASU started strong in singles winning every first set handily, except for Panoho, who lost her first set 5-7.
All of the second sets were much closer.
Krawczyk lost her second set 4-6, as did Joanna Smith, 1-6 and Panoho, 5-7.
Vlad, Sahagun, and senior Hannah James all won in straight sets but their second set scores were much closer at 7-5, 6-4 and 6-3 respectively.
“At the beginning of the singles, our first sets went well and then we sort of lost our way a little bit,” McInerney said.
Krawczyk and sophomore Joanna Smith would go on to win their matches in the third set 6-3 and 6-0 respectively.
Panoho was the only Sun Devil to lose a match, losing 5-7, 5-7 in the longest match of the day.
Panho’s match was competitive throughout. At one point, Panoho was down 5-0 in the first set and closed the gap to 5-6 before losing the final game of the set.
Although the Lady Sun Devils did not play up to expectations, the adversity they faced could help them moving forward.
“In some ways, it’s good that it was a bit of a struggle today,” McInerney said. “I think from that standpoint the kids will learn from it, and definitely, it’s going to make us better from here on in.”
Part of the reason for ASU’s lackluster performance could be the team’s long layoff. The last time the team played a meaningful match was three months ago.
“A lot of these kids haven’t played since Nov. 11, and it showed, quite frankly. We weren’t as sharp as we need to be,” McInerney said.
Noticeably absent from the Sun Devils’ lineup was All-american senior Jacqueline Cako.
Cako had to sit out the match because, if she played, she would have been over her allotted number of starts for the season.
As a result, Krawczyk, a true freshman, moved into the number one singles spot against NAU’s top player, which admittedly made her a little nervous.
“It wasn’t that bad, it was just my first match and I got a little shaky,” Krawczyk said. “I think I did OK. I definitely could have done better.”
ASU plays a UC Davis squad Sunday that also beat NAU 6-1.
The Aggies didn’t lose any singles matches to NAU but did lose the doubles point.
Luckily for the Sun Devils, Cako returns to the court Sunday, giving ASU their best player back.
ASU will play UC Davis at noon Sunday at the Whiteman Tennis Center.
Desirae Krawczyk def. Hannah Stone: 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Stephanie Vlad def. Ghizelene Doballah: 6-1, 7-5
Leihgann Sahagun def. Joanna Vang: 6-0, 6-4
Malia Wahinepio def Ebony Panoho: 7-5, 7-5
Joanna Smith def. Alice Pacaut: 6-0, 1-6, 6-0
Hannah James def. Nicole Perez: 6-3, 6-3
Nicole Smith/Panoho def: Stone/Vang: 8-3
Sahagun/Joanna Smith def. Doballah/Perez: 6-5 (DNF)
Krawczyk/Vlad def. Pacaut Wahinepio: 8-1
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