ASU tennis welcomes struggling Pepperdine

The Pepperdine Waves roll into Tempe looking a little more like a ripple than a tsunami.

The ASU women’s tennis team faces a Pepperdine team that has been put through a meat grinder of a schedule Saturday.

The Waves (0-6) have already faced three top-20 teams in No. 4 USC, No. 5 Stanford and, most recently, No. 18 Baylor on Feb. 17.

ASU coach Sheila McInerney doesn’t feel that the Waves’ record accurately reflects how good its team is.

“Pepperdine’s a good program,” she said. “They always want to play the good teams. We’re going to have to be ready for Pepperdine. They’re a very storied program.”

Although the Waves, which hail form Malibu, Calif., may be historically good, this fact hasn’t translated into results this season. Only two of Pepperdine’s players have records that are .500 or above.

Pepperdine redshirt senior Khunpak Issarra, who plays out of the No. 2 position, has a winning record this year in singles of 4-2. Sophomore Lorraine Guillermo, who plays above Issarra at No. 1, sports a 3-3 record on the year.

Issarra and Guillermo are worth attention, because they are the only players to score wins against No. 5 Stanford on Feb. 9. On top of that, they did so against the Cardinal’s two best players.

Issarra beat then-No. 2 ranked singles player freshman Krista Hardebeck in a third-set tiebreaker 0-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6). Guillermo bested defending national singles champion junior Nicole Gibbs in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

ASU senior Jacqueline Cako, fresh off her first defeat of the season, is looking to get back on the winning track against Guillermo.

“I don’t like losing,” she said. “No one really does. I want to come back and win every match.”

One thing Cako won’t be trying to do is make a statement during her match against Guillermo.

“It’s more important to just be playing well,” Cako said. “I just want to come out there and hit the ball as well as I know I’m capable of and move and basically just get to every ball.”

Guillermo and Issarra also play together in doubles and make up the No. 8 pair in the country.

After Guillermo and Issarra, the Waves have a combined record of 4-21 on the season and are 0-12 at the No. 5 and 6 positions.

ASU will likely be able to capitalize at these lower positions, especially at the No. 4 spot where freshman Stephanie Vlad has been playing strong in the team’s last three wins.

“I feel like I’m playing with a lot of confidence and it’s showing and I’ve kind of stopped putting so much pressure on myself,” Vlad said.

In her last three matches, she hasn’t dropped a set and has only lost seven games in those matches.

The Sun Devils square off with Pepperdine at noon Saturday at the Whiteman Tennis Center.

Reach the reporter at ejsmith7@asu.edu