The tennis courts were inflicted by March Madness as No. 50 sophomore Stephanie Vlad lost to unranked Washington State junior Elizaveta Luzina.
Despite not losing a point No. 25 ASU has become accustomed to getting, the Sun Devils (16-2, 3-0 Pac-12) defeated No. 50 Washington State 4-2.
“They’re really a feisty team,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said. “They fight hard.”
Two doubles matches went to the brink.
“I think we played a little bit not-to-lose in the doubles instead of going out there and play to win,” McInerney said.
Vlad and junior Joanna Smith took a quick 3-0 lead before letting the lead slip to 3-3.
“We started out the match pretty aggressive but then kind of fell back on relying on them missing,” Vlad said.
The two began to use a more offensive approach and won 8-3.
The other two matches were difficult affairs. Both matches were tied at six before junior Leighann Sahagun and freshman Alex Osborne took the lead and won 8-6.
“Washington State plays a little bit of unorthodox doubles,” McInerney said. “They throw up a lot of lobs, they’re not super-duper aggressive in doubles, and I think sometimes that gets you to play a little bit differently.”
McInerney said WSU traditionally plays singles better than doubles. The Cougars played well and got off to quick leads, winning four of the six first sets.
This included the sets against Vlad and No. 96 sophomore Desirae Krawczyk.
Vlad’s placement wasn’t as pristine as normal, and her opponent missed very few hits while returning Vlad’s well.
Additionally, Vlad struggled on long rallies.
“I felt like I was trying to construct the points but I’d get to a point in the rally and then just miss balls,” Vlad said.
She lost both sets 6-1, and WSU tied the score at one. The score quickly moved in WSU favor, as Sahagun lost her own match 6-1, 6-3.
Freshman Kassidy Jump served an important role in the ASU victory, tying the game at two and getting the first ASU singles point 6-3, 6-2.
“Kassidy needed to get up on the court and I think she did a really good job of that today,” McInerney said.
Minutes after Jump won, sophomore Ebony Panoho won her own match 6-3, 6-2. This marks a third consecutive victory for the sophomore, who has improved at maintaining early leads.
Joanna Smith was reinserted into the lineup prior to gameplay. McInerney said this was because she defeated the same opponent, junior Charlotte Koning, last year.
Smith lost the first set 6-4. She fought to win the next set 6-4, and though she did not finish her match, this second set victory helped ASU win.
Krawczyk, on court two, had played two long sets against sophomore Lize Leenknecht. Krawczyk lost the first 7-5 and won the second 6-4, and went into a third set that ended up being the deciding factor.
“Just the fact that (Smith) was out there helps Desirae,” McInerney said. “If she had gone down in straight sets, then all the pressure goes to Des.”
There was no real contest in set three, though.
“I started being patient and being inside the court and taking balls down the line across my body,” Krawczyk said.
She won 6-1 and propelled ASU to a 4-2 victory.
“I was really proud of them to pull their weight,” Vlad said.
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