ASU tennis heads to Miami for ITA Kickoff Weekend

Senior Jacqueline Cako dips her racquet low to pick a scoop shot, as her doubles partner senior Nicole Smith backs her up against UC Davis on Jan. 20. The team will rely on Cako when they face Oklahoma this weekend. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Senior Jacqueline Cako dips her racquet low to pick a scoop shot, as her doubles partner senior Nicole Smith backs her up against UC Davis on Jan. 20. The team will rely on Cako when they face Oklahoma this weekend. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

A trip to Miami might be considered a great vacation for college kids, but for the ASU women’s tennis team, it’s all business.

The Sun Devils (2-0) heads in to their first road trip of the season for the ITA Kickoff Weekend to face Oklahoma Friday and either Hawaii or No. 9 Miami Saturday.

The match will act as a regional qualifier for the ITA National Team Indoor Tournament Feb. 8 in Charlottesville, Va.

Punching a ticket to Virginia will not be easy.

“We’re going to have to win both matches,” coach Sheila McInerney said. “We’re going to have to beat a good Oklahoma team first, and the hopefully the winner of the Miami-Hawaii match.”

Oklahoma (1-0) has only played one match this season, beating Wichita State 5-2, but the Sooners have a roster heavy on experienced upperclassmen with one senior and four juniors.

Even though they may have played more matches, ASU won’t be making the mistake of entering Friday’s match cocky after winning their first two.

“Certainly, you’re not gong in to anything over-confident,” head coach Sheila McInerney said. “Everybody really had to work.”

The Sun Devils struggled a bit Saturday when they beat NAU. The team played better on Sunday beating UC Davis 7-0 in much more decisive matches.

ASU will practice for only one day at home before traveling to Miami Wednesday and practicing there for a couple of days to adjust to the climate.

“The conditions are a lot different,” McInerney said. “You’re playing in the dry heat out here and you’re playing in a little more humidity there so the balls don’t travel as quickly, so you have to be figuring you’re going to play longer points down there.”

The practices in Miami will also afford the Sun Devils some time so get used to playing somewhere other than Whiteman Tennis Center.

“We have a couple days to get adjusted,” senior Jacqueline Cako said. “It’ll be different for (the underclassmen) playing away from home and playing a match at a different place they don’t know, but I think overall we should be fine.”

Should ASU win on Friday, they will more than likely play No. 9 Miami (2-0) on Saturday.

The Hurricanes would be the first top-25 team on ASU ‘s schedule and have already been thoroughly tested against top competition.

Miami already dropped a top-25 team in convincing fashion, blanking No. 24 Illinois 7-0 on Jan. 13.Miami also won its own Miami Spring Invite tournament Jan. 18-20, which hosted a field of No. 11 Texas, No. 13 Texas A&M; and Vanderbilt.

If ASU were to play Hawaii (1-1), it would be the third time Hawaii will play a Pac-12 team.

The Rainbow Wahine lost to Washington 7-0 in a Jan. 19 dual match and were shellacked by Cal at their own Weinman Foundation Invitational tournament Jan. 12-14. Hawaii failed to win even one singles match against Cal in three days of play.

Reach the reporter at ejsmith7@asu.edu