ASU’s match against Nevada featured a big change in the doubles lineup.
Coach Sheila McInerney changed two of the three doubles teams.
“We lost a doubles point to Pepperdine,” she said. “(We) didn’t play that well.”
Junior Leighann Sahagun and sophomore Stephanie Vlad switched places.
Vlad was put with junior Joanna Smith in the second doubles spot. Sahagun teamed up with sophomore Ebony Panoho in the third.
Both of the pairs won their matches.
“We can easily have three very good teams,” McInerney said. “I think it’s just a matter of maybe just the chemistry of the teams.”
Sophomore Desirae Krawczyk and freshman Kassidy Jump, in the No. 1 seed, lost their match.
ASU clinched the doubles point with Panoho/Sahagun’s victory, though, and took a 1-0 lead going into singles.
Panoho continued her solid play in singles. After shutting out her opponent, sophomore Monika Magusiak, in the first set, she hit three consecutive aces to win the first round of her second set.
“(Magusiak) struggled with my pace,” Panoho said.
When it looked like Panoho was going to get an easy victory, her opponent decided otherwise. Panoho lost two straight rounds and fell to 1-2.
Those were the only points she lost. Panoho said volunteer assistant coach Ford Oliver gave her advice during a break in action.
“Ford told me to play the way that I play, which is using my forehand,” Panoho said.
Panoho was also able to attack her opponent’s forehand side and use big hits against her.
This helped her win 6-2 and get the first singles point for ASU.
Smith, on the sixth court, finished second. She won 6-0, 6-3.
McInerney said these matches set up the momentum that the rest of the game exhibited.
“We took the leads, early leads, in every match and I think we won the six first sets easily,” she said.
The first sets did not set the tone for the second.
Jump was among the players who started quickly before struggling in the second set. She won her first set 6-2 before squeaking out a 6-4 victory in the second set.
Sahagun also won her first set quickly. She looked to be in for an easy finish, leading the second set 5-2.
Her opponent, sophomore Caroline Konigsfeldt, pulled the score to 5-4 before Sahagun put the game away.
“(Sahagun) hits a big ball,” Panoho said. “She has a very good serve as well.”
Vlad’s match went similar to Sahagun’s. She lost an early point in the first set and looked like she was lacking energy, but she picked it up and won 6-1.
Vlad continued playing well late into the second set and took a 5-2 lead. She stumbled, and her opponent, senior Michelle Okhremchuk, cut the deficit to 5-4.
At this point, Okhremchuk walked off the court clutching her right hand. After getting patched up, it was revealed she developed blisters during the match.
Her hand was wrapped but her game did not appear to be affected; Okhremchuk put in a very effective next round.
She drove Vlad to the brink. They battled for the advantage point multiple times on the final serve, but Vlad pulled ahead and won 6-4.
Krawczyk, on the second court, got off to a fast start.
She went up 4-2 on freshman Sheila Morales Hidalgo but couldn’t keep the lead.
“I had a chance to make it 5-2 but I didn’t convert,” Krawczyk said. “That kind of threw me off.”
Instead, Morales Hidalgo found her game, and pulled ahead 5-4. Krawczyk fought and eventually won the set 7-5.
Krawczyk said playing in doubles against Morales Hidalgo helped her figure out how to play against her opponent’s serve.
“It was a lot weaker and I stepped into the ball,” Krawczyk said.
This helped Krawczyk win the first set and take an early 3-0 lead in set two. Morales Hidalgo fought back, however, and won four straight sets.
“I started not doing my patterns,” Krawczyk said.
The patterns she missed consisted of hitting the ball across her body, first serve successes and deep hits.
Krawczyk worked to fix this and took a 6-5 lead. Again, though, she couldn’t put the match away and lost the next point.
By this point, all other matches were long over and all eyes were on court two. Krawczyk rose to the challenge and won the set 7-6.
After ASU’s 7-0 win, McInerney’s sights are already set on upcoming matches.
“It’s all about getting better now,” she said. “The more matches you can play, the better the kids get.”
ASU takes on San Diego on Sunday at noon at the Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe.
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