The ASU tennis team looked in to the eye of the hurricane but just couldn’t weather the storm.
The Sun Devils bested Oklahoma 5-2 Friday before falling to No. 9 Miami 4-3 in a very close match.
ASU took care of the Sooners quickly. It won the doubles point with wins from freshman Desirae Krawczyk and sophomore Leighann Sahagun, who won 8-1, and freshman Ebony Panoho and sophomore Joanna Smith, 8-5. Seniors Nicole Smith and Jacqueline Cako did not finish their match.
The Sun Devils extended their lead in the match 4-0 with wins in straight sets from Cako (6-0, 6-0), Panoho (6-0, 6-2) and Sahagun (6-3, 6-2) to secure the victory.
“Joanna and Ebony battled back from being down 4-0 and 5-2, so that was big for us to clinch the doubles point,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said.”We got off to good starts in four of the singles matches and closed them out well. It was a nice win on the road.”
Freshman Stephanie Vlad also won her match 6-4, 6-1 giving ASU its fifth point for the match. Krawczyk and senior Hannah James lost their matches 7-6 (5), 3-2 (9) and 6-1, 6-0 respectively.
After beating Oklahoma Friday, the Sun Devils advanced to play No. 9 Miami Saturday with a berth in the ITA’s National Indoor Tournament on the line. ASU battled like it was an NCAA tournament berth on the line.
Things started well for ASU, capturing the doubles point behind victories from Krawczyk and Shagun and Cako and Smith, both winning 8-6. It was the first time Miami had lost the doubles point all year.
“We played very well to win the doubles point, but Miami was the physically stronger team in the singles,” McInereney said. “I thought they were the team dictating play in the singles. We need to improve in this area.”
The Hurricanes tied things up at the start of singes play when Miami junior Melissa Bolivar beat Vlad 6-2, 6-1; however, the tie was broken shortly thereafter when Cako won her match 6-0, 7-5.
Miami would take the lead again 3-2 after freshman Deborah Suarez beat ASU sophomore Joanna Smith 6-2, 6-2 and freshman Kelsey Laurente defeated Krawczyk 6-2, 6-3.
The Hurricanes needed only one more point to clinch the match. They would get it when freshman Clementina Riobueno defeated Panoho in a three-set battle. Panoho won the first set 5-7 but Riobueno would win the final two sets 6-2, 6-4 and secure the win for Miami.
ASU sophomore Leighann Sahagun won her match in three sets as well, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), but it was too little, too late for her team.
“(The match) was a very tough match and an extremely disappointing loss as we were right there at the end with a great opportunity for the win,” McInerney said. “I am proud of the way we battled, and I think we can learn from this loss moving forward.”
With the loss, the Sun Devils don’t qualify for the ITA National Indoor Tournament and now face a lengthy layoff.
Their next match is Feb. 13 against San Jose State at Whiteman Tennis Center.
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