The ASU women’s tennis team burst onto the scene in 2014 with a bang, sweeping NAU in both matches of the doubleheader (7-0, 7-0).
The matches featured changes in game format due to experimentation with new Intercollegiate Tennis Association guidelines.
Under these guidelines, doubles matches were played to six-game sets. The third set consists of a sudden death round, warm-up time before games was eliminated.
These changes were implemented with the intention of decreasing game time to bring in a larger audience.
“It’s quite different,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said. “Tennis is certainly a very traditional sport and I think sometimes you need to think outside the box a little bit.”
In the 10 a.m. match, ASU doubles won the point by winning two sets. Sophomore Stephanie Vlad continued to dominate after a stellar 2013.
Vlad said the Thunderbird Invitational, in which she earned third place, gave her momentum to carry through winter break and into 2014.
“I think it has taken an impact on my game,” Vlad said. “I’m very confident coming into the season.”
In singles, Vlad defeated sophomore Emilia Box (6-0, 6-2).
“I have the tendency sometimes to let opponents push me around so I’m trying to be more aggressive,” she said.
Each ASU player won her singles match in two straight sets, but McInerney wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance.
“I think we had a few opening match jitters,” she said. “Our doubles continues to need to get better.”
She said she was disappointed the duo of sophomore Ebony Panoho and junior Joanna Smith couldn’t win because they had played together in the past. McInerney changed this in the second match, which, due to ITA experimentation, featured four singles matches and one doubles.
McInerney teamed sophomore Leighann Sahagun with Smith, even though, according to Sahagun, the two had only played together twice in their careers, which affected their chemistry.
“The people we were playing were a little bit easier,” Sahagun said.
This allowed them adapt to each other better as the game progressed.
Sahagun and Smith swept the first set, and won the second 6-3.
Sophomore Desirae Krawczyk continued to impress, dominating Box in a singles match (6-0, 6-1).
“I hit my spots,” Krawczyk said. “I just kept myself disciplined.”
Freshman Alex Osborne played in exhibition matches during this game. McInerney said this was due to her lack of team experience.
“She literally just got here two weeks ago from Australia,” McInerney said. “We just wanted to … get her feet wet.”
McInerney said that though the exhibition matches did not count toward the team total, playing against a new opponent helped Osborne.
The team will continue experimenting with new ITA guidelines as the season continues.
“We’re trying to be the ones that are proactive and giving ideas,” McInerney said.
The Sun Devils’ next match is on Jan. 25 at Notre Dame.
Sahagun/Vlad (ASU) def. Box/H. Rochan (NAU) 6-2
Vang/T. Rochan (NAU) def. Panoho/Smith (ASU) 6-3
Krawczyk/Jump (ASU) def. Denesik/Spruch (NAU) 6-1
Vlad (ASU) def. Box (NAU) 6-0, 6-2
Krawxzyk (ASU) def. Vang (NAU) 6-2, 6-0
Sahagun (ASU) def. H. Rochin (NAU) 7-5, 6-3
Panoho (ASU) def. Denesik (NAU) 6-2, 6-3
Jump (ASU) def. T. Rochin (NAU) 6-2, 7-6 (4)
O’Sullivan (ASU) def. Spruch (NAU) 6-1, 6-0
Sahagun/Smith (ASU) def. H. Rochan/Vang (NAU) 6-0, 6-3
Vlad (ASU) def. Demesik (NAU) 6-1, 6-1
Krawczyk (ASU) def. Box (NAU) 6-0, 6-1
Jump (ASU) def. Headford (NAU) 6-3, 6-1
O’Sullivan (ASU) def. T. Rochan (NAU) 6-2, 6-1
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Because of a reporting error, junior Leighann Sahagun was incorrectly identified.