No. 25 ASU women’s tennis won its ninth straight match 4-0 against Oregon, but this victory came without the usual wins from sophomores No. 50 Stephanie Vlad and No. 96 Desirae Krawczyk.
Instead, the Sun Devils got a rather rare point from doubles.
ASU head coach Sheila McInerney said she was happy with that, but she didn’t think the doubles squads played as well as they could’ve, and they lacked energy.
“We’ve been working a lot on moving and poaching and things like that,” she said. “We didn’t do a lot of the things that we worked on.”
The team got some help from the players near the bottom of the singles lineup.
Freshman Alex Osborne, who joined junior Leighann Sahagun on the second court, had consistent serves and all-around hustle.
Junior Joanna Smith also served well. She didn’t rely on the second serve and often forced her opponents to mishit the serve.
Smith and Vlad pulled ahead 5-1, lost a pair of points, but won 8-3. It took Sahagun and Osborne a little longer, but they pulled ahead and won 8-4.
“We noticed that they were spraying a lot,” Sahagun said. “When we got the ball higher than their strike range, they gave us a lot of free points.”
This resulted in a point for ASU heading into singles.
Singles proved to be a battle on every court, epitomizing what McInerney said about Oregon’s competitive spirit prior to the match.
With Vlad and Krawczyk’s opponents fighting hard in their first sets, sophomore Ebony Panoho ended up being the player to score first. She pulled ahead quickly in set one and took a 4-1 lead, but let it slip to 5-4 before putting the set away.
She did not let the same thing happen in set two. She got a shutout and gave the Devils a 2-0 lead.
Sahagun, who entered the match feeling ill, got off to a fast start; however, she began to run out of energy. After winning set one 6-1, she fell behind 3-2 in the second set.
“I kind of just calmed down and realized what I was doing,” she said.
She stopped trying to “force winners,” as she said, and tried to stop flattening her racquet.
She didn’t lose again and won 6-3.
Freshman Gussie O’Sullivan, who was officially entered into the lineup as game time was about to begin, ended up being the deciding factor. She won both sets 6-2 and put the final touches on a 4-0 ASU victory.
She acknowledged that she didn’t do as well as getting it into the forehand side of her opponent, freshman Kadie Hueffner, as she intended on doing, but took advantage of short balls.
“When she did give me a short ball, I was trying to be aggressive and come in a little bit,” O’Sullivan said.
She got off the court quickly, McInerney said. This proved to be the clinching and game-ending point for ASU, as they won 4-0 against Oregon.
“It’s always nice to get a win, particularly a Pac-12 win,” McInerney said. “I think we can play better though.”
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