Hardworking is the word that best describes No. 55 ASU tennis sophomore Desirae Krawczyk. Both she and coach Sheila McInerney used this multiple times to describe her success, improvement and leadership.
“She works really hard. She likes to play. She’s energetic,” McInerney said. “She brings a lot of energy (and) brings a very good work ethic.”
This hard work has paid its dividends — Krawczyk ended the regular season with a 20-3 record, which McInerney called “really amazing.” This stretch included a 16-match win streak spanning Jan. 18-March 22.
One of her losses was to the No. 30 player, Cal junior Anett Schutting. The second loss was a forfeit due to a knee injury in a match that didn’t get to the fourth point of the first set.
The injury derailed her, but she was back and competing the next week in her usual spots on the first doubles court and second singles court.
“I think my confidence has gone up a lot, especially after getting my ranking higher and beating a top-40 player against Stanford,” Krawczyk said.
This victory, against sophomore Krista Hardebeck, was influential in thrusting Krawczyk from the No. 81 national ranking to No. 49. This put her ahead of sophomore teammate Stephanie Vlad.
Despite the higher national ranking, Krawczyk remains on the second court. She said this doesn’t make her feel dejected or lose confidence.
“Whatever’s best for the team,” she said simply.
McInerney said it was good for Krawczyk to play on the second court and get a lot of victories, which increased her confidence.
McInerney said the two have talked about the situation and that Krawczyk is “very much a team person.”
The sophomore emphasized the team aspect during interviews, throwing in instances when her teammates played well. She is clearly becoming a leader of the squad, a type of leadership that McInerney said is predominately non-vocal.
“She leads by example,” McInerney said.
This has been on display on the doubles court.
ASU doubles has experienced inconsistency throughout the season, forcing McInerney to experiment with the lineup. Junior Leighann Sahagun said changing partners can mess with rhythm.
“Always changing partners changes momentum, so it’s kind of hard to get a groove,” she said.
Something’s different with Krawczyk, though. She began the season on the third court with freshman Kassidy Jump, and they eventually made their way to the first court. Krawczyk was placed with freshman Alex Osborne for four matches and has played with Sahagun over recent weeks.
She saw success with each of them — she and Jump gained a ranking as high as No. 56. Partnered with Osborne, the two won a pair of matches, including one against the No. 60 team. Krawczyk settled in with Sahagun to face the No. 1 doubles teams from UCLA and UA. They did not lose either; the match against ULCA went unfinished and they defeated UA.
Each teammate she’s had seems to improve when they place with her.
“She’s like a person that automatically sets you up,” Sahagun said.
Her big returns and accuracy play a large part in this.
“She’s the first one hitting the ball, so it can set the tone for me and it can kind of bring adrenaline,” Sahagun said.
McInerney said that she allows her teammates to poach off her shots easily and added that Krawczyk’s aggression plays a key role in doubles success.
“That’s just sort of Des’s mindset. She’s a pretty aggressive player,” McInerney said. “With that being said, I think she really helps whoever she’s playing with.”
Her on-the-court aggression is one of the many things McInerney said has improved in Krawczyk, among her mobility, serve and “strong hit for her stature.”
She has room to grow, though.
“We’re trying to get her to play more like a left-hander,” McInerney said.
She mentioned the learning process of hooking the ball off the court. Krawczyk added that she’s trying to spread the court more and use more volleys.
She has improved over the season, particularly in doubles and accuracy. Krawczyk said repetition in practice is the only way to improve ball placement.
Off the court, her aggression dissipates.
“In a good way, she’s sort of a goofball,” McInerney said. “She has an easy way about her but she also has a lot of energy, which I think is fun to be around.”
McInerney added that she’s usually in a happy mood, infectious to the players and simply loves to play tennis.
This goes back to the non-vocal leadership, which is influenced by her work ethic.
“I’m a hard worker in practice; we push each other to do better,” the southpaw said.
She knows she can rely on her teammates to push her, and they can rely on her.
“We’ve been able to count on her point 20 times,” McInerney said. “That is a leadership quality in itself.”
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