All practice and no matches can make some tennis players antsy.
After sitting on the shelf for 17 days, the ASU tennis team will taste competition for the first time since Jan. 26 against San Jose State on Wednesday.
“At this time of the year, you’d rather play than practice,” coach Sheila McInerney said. “So I think they’ll be excited to play, and we have to come out with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.”
The Spartans (5-2), have played more matches than the Sun Devils (3-1), but ASU is San Jose State’s first top-50 opponent this season.
Despite the lengthy break, conditioning will not likely play a factor for the Sun Devils.
The coaching staff has made it a point to balance keeping the team’s skills sharp and staying in game-shape.
“The first 10 days, you’re looking more at technique stuff you’re working on, some conditioning things, and now it’s more getting back in to the mode of playing matches,” McInerney said.
Two matches worth paying attention to Wednesday are at the No. 1 and No. 5 spots.
Spartans sophomore Klaudia Boczova is the reigning WAC player of the week. She plays out of the No.1 slot and has won six consecutive matches since losing her first match of the season. Four of the wins have come in straight sets.
Boczova is coming off her biggest win of the year against Santa Clara sophomore Katie Le, the No. 26 player in the nation.
Boczova faces ASU senior Jacqueline Cako, who has yet to drop a set this season but has missed the past few days of practice playing in a professional tournament in Michigan.
SJSU sophomore Julianna Bacelar plays in the No. 5 position and is riding a 11-match winning streak dating back to the preseason. Bacelar’s last loss was to Cal’s Annie Goransson in October.
ASU sophomore Joanna Smith will look to change that.
“(Bacelar’s record) doesn’t really affect me,” Smith said. “Every match is something new, so I just have to go out there and do my best and play how I know how to play. Just take it one point at a time and just try to win every point.”
One concern for Smith is a nagging groin injury she’s dealt with since last season.
“It’s a lot better,” Smith said. “I just have to wear these compression shorts to secure everything when I play, so it’s good to go now.”
A couple of other Sun Devils are battling injuries as well. Freshman Desirae Krawczyk and sophomore Leighann Sahagun suffered minor injuries in practice during the layoff.
Sahagun pulled her right quad but will play against San Jose State. Krawczyk pulled her right groin but should play against the Spartans.
The Sun Devils square off with the Spartans at the Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe. It the first game of a seven-game homestand for ASU.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org