The ASU women’s tennis team will start its spring break early, as its final test before the week off comes Friday against a Washington team that jumped from No. 40 to No. 24 in the most recent International Tennis Association rankings.
“They had two good wins over the weekend, beating TCU and Sac(ramento) State,” head coach Sheila McInerney said.
Washington is led by No. 111 Elianne Douglas-Miron. The sophomore was ranked 133rd by the ITA in 2010.
That being said, No. 29 ASU boasts two ranked individual players, both of whom are above Douglas-Miron.
The two teams currently hold identical records. Washington, at 10-2, has only lost to then-No. 8 Cal and then-No. 64 Houston.
ASU has experience against Washington; the two teams played last year, and ASU came away with a 4-3 victory.
“We certainly know what to expect. They have a lot of the same kids,” McInerney said. “We’re going to have to play well.”
The match is likely to be indoors due to weather. McInerney said rain was forecasted for Friday.
She has repeatedly said tennis players are trained to be able to adapt quickly. The last time ASU played indoors, it defeated No. 21 Notre Dame. The Sun Devils will again look to fend off a higher-ranked opponent on the road.
This effort will be alleviated with a clean bill of health. In past weeks, sophomores Ebony Panoho and Desirae Krawczyk have fought injury battles.
“We’re nice and healthy, which is great,” McInerney said.
McInerney said the team will not change its practice schedule to accommodate the Friday match.
ASU leaves Thursday morning and will practice on the Washington courts that day.
“We get up there and get an indoor practice on Thursday, which will be helpful,” McInerney said.
The match will be played at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
McInerney is unsure of how she’ll adjust the doubles lineup.
“It’s going to be a work in progress all year,” she said. “We’ll figure it out as we go.”
Last week, McInerney switched the court ordering and two of the teams. Another radical change would not be surprising, but the duos will need to be prepared for their first match against a ranked opponent since Pepperdine.
This ranked match begins the final stretch of the season; from now until the end of the regular season, ASU will play against only one opponent who is currently unranked.
The Washington match will set the tone.
“The kids know we’re going to be in for a tough one,” McInerney said. “It’ll be a dog fight.”
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