A rather decisive victory succeeded a tough battle that culminated in another win for the ASU women’s tennis team on the weekend of Feb. 1.
The week focused around heated contests between two separate opponents. The first was in the Montana State game.
Doubles play opened, and on the first court were juniors Joanna Smith and Leighann Sahagun of ASU against sophomore Iva Parapunova and senior Paulina Lopez Trevino of Montana State.
Smith and Sahagun couldn’t get their game together. They fell behind 4-1.
They said they lacked energy in the match after waking up early.
“It was kind of like a slow start to the morning,” Sahagun said.
At this point, the other two doubles courts had finished, and ASU had sealed the doubles point. The match wasn’t completed, but Sahagun saw Lopez again in the singles match.
Sahagun said that Lopez’s game messes with her own due to the pace change. This forced Sahagun to create the pace, and as a result, she tended to overhit the ball.
Sahagun managed to pull out a 7-5 victory in the first set.
“(Her game) was really weird for me. It was hard for me to adjust to it in the first set,” Sahagun said. “In the second set, I kind of started getting the hang of it.”
She said coach Sheila McInerney told her to continue getting volleys. She did, and adjusted to Lopez’ game. Sahagun won 6-1 in the second set.
Smith won her own singles match (6-0, 6-0). Parapunova, Lopez’s teammate in doubles play, lost to ASU sophomore Stephanie Vlad (6-1, 6-1).
ASU won the first match, 7-0. The second match, experimenting with ITA guidelines, only featured one doubles match — this was a rematch between Smith/Sahagun and Parapunova/Lopez.
ASU got off to a slow start. Sahagun’s serves were inconsistent, and she often misplayed the first serve.
“I feel like I was just trying to go for too big of a shot,” she said.
Her second serves landed in play. Sahagun said she calmed down during these, and didn’t force the shot.
Smith opened up play with a solid set of serves. The two then began to strike the balls powerfully, often making their opponents switch focus from hitting the ball to making sure they didn’t get struck with it.
“I think Leigh(ann) and I were just trying to be aggressive,” Smith said. “We were just taking balls out of the air, and if we happened to peg them, we did.”
They won their set 6-1, and ASU went on to win the entire match 5-0.
The sweep of Montana St. had been completed, and ASU set its sights on San Jose State.
This matchup centered around the play of San Jose State freshman Marie Klocker. The unranked freshman played with freshman Gaelle Rey in doubles against Sahagun and Smith.
Their match went uncompleted; the other two doubles matches finished in ASU favor. Klocker, however, was dominant.
She had energy and a sort of swagger that helped her gameplay. Her hits were accurate. She pushed Sahagun/Smith to a 5-1 deficit before the game was called.
Smiling, she left the court and prepared to take on No. 50 Stephanie Vlad.
The two fought back and forth on their sets. Vlad was up 3-2 but couldn’t break away from Klocker. Vlad said her game was very frustrating.
“She made me play a lot of long points, and she was very physical,” Vlad said.
Klocker’s swagger was replaced by evident determination. She wouldn’t get the upperhand, though. Vlad won the first set 6-4.
“(Assistant Coach Clint Letcher) was telling me there were some balls that I was letting bounce really low that I could take a couple feet inside the baseline,” Vlad said. “At the beginning of the second set, I was doing that really well and put pressure on her.”
The pressure had its effect. The long plays made Klocker lose her energy, and Vlad won the second set 6-1 in a tough battle the score didn’t reflect.
ASU won this match 6-1, but the match was much more competitive than the score indicated.
McInerney said San Jose State played very aggressive and a little more physical than ASU did, but ASU played well at the end and won the match.
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