A week after dropping two matches and losing its 10-match win streak, No. 23 ASU women’s tennis returned to the desert to regain momentum against No. 73 Colorado and No. 31 Utah.
Sophomore No. 60 Stephanie Vlad regained momentum. She had three consecutive losses but was able to dispatch her Colorado opponent, junior Julyette Steur, easily.
“The thing for Steph (was) try to get off to a good start, stay up on the baseline, and stay positive as much as anything,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said.
Vlad won again Saturday on a tightly contested match that not only went into three sets, but also decided the match in a 4-2 victory over the Utes.
McInerney said Vlad’s losses and close matches weren’t unexpected.
“At that position, you’re going to suffer some losses,” McInerney said. “For (Vlad) to have done as well as she’s done so far, it’s a credit to her.”
In doubles play, sophomore Desirae Krawczyk and freshman Alex Osborne played well together. Osborne’s serves were accurate and she played well at the net and recovered tough hits. Krawczyk displayed phenomenal accuracy, and the two took down Colorado 8-4.
They were roughed up to start the match against Utah, though, falling behind 5-2.
The pair launched a furious comeback, tying the score at five before losing the sixth point. The teams traded points until the score was tied at seven. The match went into a tiebreaker set, and the duo did not put up much of a battle as Utah took the set and the point.
Krawczyk said she and Osborne began playing more aggressively and attacking the net. They will look to continue doing this over the next weeks.
Freshman Gussie O’Sullivan played well in the sixth spot in place of junior Joanna Smith. Against Colorado, O’Sullivan won the first set 6-1 and was winning the second 5-0 at the time the match was clinched and called over.
The next morning, O’Sullivan struck again, winning 6-1, 6-2, clinching a much-needed point for ASU.
“She’s been working hard,” McInerney said. “She has wanted to get playing time and the matchups have been good for her.”
The match against Utah was televised by the Pac-12 Networks. McInerney said the players were unaffected by the cameras.
“(That was) definitely a cool experience,” Vlad said. “It changes perspective on things.”
She referred to the fact that more people were watching, so she had to control her reactions and do certain things on the court.
“I think everyone was more excited, and it got us more pumped up for (the match),” Krawczyk said.
When all was said and done, ASU clinched an undefeated record at home. McInerney said this was the first time the school had done so.
“For this group to be 18-4, that’s amazing, quite frankly,” McInerney said. “All credit to them.”
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