No. 19 ASU women’s tennis returned to California to play against a pair of highly ranked and historically successful teams: No. 13 USC and No. 2 UCLA.
USC’s best player, junior No. 17 Sabrina Santamaria, was injured with an ACL injury. This did not stop the Trojans from defeating the Sun Devils (18-6, Pac-12 5-4) 4-2.
Even with Santamaria’s injury, USC boasted a trio of ranked players, the highest being junior No. 26 Zoë Scandalis.
Scandalis played against No. 68 sophomore Stephanie Vlad. A neck-and-neck competition turned in favor of Scandalis, who won 7-5, 6-4.
Vlad played well despite losing, and ASU coach Sheila McInerney said she did a good job controlling the match and playing up on the baseline.
“She was the aggressor of the two,” McInerney said.
This was a theme for the Sun Devils throughout the match. McInerney said her team played more aggressively than USC but was unable to pull out a victory.
“They just got a few more balls back than we did,” she said.
McInerney made an enormous doubles lineup change, altering all three lineups. She placed junior Leighann Sahagun with sophomore Desirae Krawczyk on the first court, junior Joanna Smith with freshman Kassidy Jump on the second and freshman Alex Osborne with Vlad on the third.
The lineup changes did not affect the score. ASU fell 8-2 in the second and third courts. The Sun Devils were losing court one 5-4 when the doubles point was clinched and match was called.
“They didn’t really beat us. We just made too many mistakes,” McInerney said.
The next day was different. Despite playing against the No. 1 and No. 8 doubles teams in the nation, ASU hung in.
“I thought they played pretty well,” McInerney summarized of all three courts.
She mentioned that Osborne stood out and Krawczyk’s big serves and returns were a positive as well.
Vlad did not play in doubles against UCLA; she was subbed out for sophomore Ebony Panoho. McInerney said Vlad had a tough match the day before in singles and decided to try a new lineup.
The switch worked well. Although Osborne and Panoho lost, they had a big lead early, and McInerney said they got a “little unlucky.”
That was not the only instance of bad luck the Sun Devils experienced. After completing three games in her singles set, Krawczyk went down with a knee injury.
“We’re just hoping it’s not a meniscus or anything,” McInerney said. “It wasn’t some sudden movement, so we’re not really sure.”
She added that there was no swelling, a good sign. Krawczyk will see a doctor on Monday.
The match point was awarded to UCLA, and ASU eventually fell 7-0.
McInerney said the doubles played better but singles were unable to live up to the task.
“They were hungry. They competed well,” McInerney said of the Bruins. “You have to be at your absolute best to beat a team like UCLA.”
Reach the reporter at Logan.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman