The ASU women’s tennis team is headed to the Wolverine Invitational in Michigan this weekend to compete in its first tournament of the season.
With just a week of practice under their belts, the Sun Devils will use the tournament to gauge what they need to focus on in practice going forward.
Sophomore Desirae Krawczyk said she is just looking forward to getting the season underway.
“It’s going to be good for all of us because it’s our first (tournament),” Krawczyk said. “It’s going to be a lot of matches, so we get to know what to work on and how well we prepared.”
With the departure of ASU’s top doubles pairing from last season, coach Sheila McInerney is going to experiment with the doubles pairings to see who plays best with each other.
“One day we can play with one (doubles team) … and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll switch,” McInerney said. “With four singles matches and four doubles matches … it gives us a lot of time to experiment with our doubles teams.”
The Sun Devils first doubles match of the tournament is Saturday against tournament host, the No. 10 Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is one of two top-25 teams competing in the tournament. ASU will play No. 23 Notre Dame in singles on Saturday, but won’t face the Fighting Irish in doubles play.
Unlike regular season play, players don’t know whom they are facing until right before the match begins. Sophomore Stephanie Vlad said she likes not knowing, because it helps her to focus on her own game.
“I feel like I compete the same either way no matter who I play, so I don’t mind (not knowing my opponent),” Vlad said. “I like not over preparing myself and thinking too much about matches.”
Although, after she finds out her opponent, it’s the same type of preparation, Vlad said.
“It will still be the same preparation once the coaches find out who we’re playing,” she said. “They’ll discuss strategies for us, just like during the season.”
Vlad has been working on playing more aggressively in practice, and said she hopes to improve on that in Michigan.
“I feel like I’ve been pretty aggressive in practice,” she said. “Now I need to translate it into real match play.”
Vlad said she is grateful for full practices having started because she will be able to work on her matchplay.
“Matchplay is so much different than having someone feed us balls,” Vlad said. “It is so much more beneficial than hitting, because we’ll actually be competing in Michigan, so we need match play practice.”
Krawczyk had a chance to prepare even more for the Invitational on Tuesday, when All-American alumna Jacqueline Cako stopped by practice to play.
“It definitely helped having Jacqueline here,” Krawczyk said. “She’s still a top competitor … so it’s good to practice with her.”
Krawczyk is the only Sun Devil ranked in the preseason ITA singles rankings at No. 81. Tulane and Purdue, who also participate in the tourney this weekend, each also have one player ranked.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame and Michigan each have three. DePaul is the only team in the Wolverine Invitational without at least one player in the ITA top 125.
ASU will play two singles matches Friday, and one each on Saturday and Sunday. Doubles play starts on Saturday, and the Sun Devils will play two doubles matches on both Saturday and Sunday.
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