ASU tennis 2013-14 awards

Sophomore Ebony Panoho returns the ball with a backhand in a match against Colorado on April 4. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Sophomore Ebony Panoho returns the ball with a backhand in a match against Colorado on April 4. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

MVP: sophomore Desirae Krawczyk

Krawczyk and sophomore Stephanie Vlad could almost be co-winners; their seasons were very similar. Krawczyk had a 20-3 record on court two, compared to Vlad’s 16-7 record on court one. Krawczyk was a little more consistent, winning 16 matches before her first loss, but what makes her stand out is her doubles play. She took control of the one court halfway through the season and never relinquished hold, winning matches and points that proved decisive.

Best player: Vlad

The MVP race implies differently, but Vlad was indisputably the No. 1 player and leader of the Sun Devil team. Her individual record, 16-7, came against some of the strongest tennis players in the nation. She was counted on weekly, and when the match came down to her, she rarely let her team down.

Most improved: Freshman Kassidy Jump

In January, Jump occupied the fourth court, and I wondered if she was going to be moved to the fifth in place of sophomore Ebony Panoho. There was a clear gap in the talent of Jump and the third seed, junior Leighann Sahagun. Jump’s serving and consistency improved, though, and she has made giant strides. Now on the No. 3 court in singles, Jump has won huge matches. Her improvement is also evident on the doubles court. Her serving and power on groundstrokes was a key in her championship victory with junior Joanna Smith in the invitational section of the Pac-12 championship.

Quietly high potential: Freshman Alex Osborne

Jump’s going to keep improving, and Vlad and Krawczyk are already very good, rising athletes. Freshman Gussie O’Sullivan has also shown strides on the sixth court.

Osborne stands out through her power, accuracy and all-around hustle. She rarely played in singles matches, but on the doubles courts, she never stopped moving and would chase down every ball, whether or not it appeared out of reach. Additionally, Osborne has only been in America for one semester; as she grows accustomed to the culture and differences between tennis, she has a real chance to become a force.

Most fun to interview: Sahagun

Probably the easiest decision of all these awards, Sahagun always had words to say after matches. Her on-the-court emotions translated off the court and gave answers to unasked questions. Her humor and analytics made interviews easier and articles better.

Gas Pedal: Panoho

Panoho went through a stretch in which she would simply dominate the first set, winning 6-0 or 6-1, but fall apart in the second and either lose a similar deficit or eke out a tight victory. McInerney often said she needed to “keep her foot on the gas pedal” and close out matches strong. In mid-March, she did so, finding her groove and transforming into a reliable asset on the fifth court.

The Specialist: Smith

Smith played most of the singles season either on the sixth court or the sidelines. Her mobile play and aggression at the net translated perfectly into doubles, and these aspects of her game style played a key role in her Pac-12 championship victory with Jump.

Late season spark: O’Sullivan

Placed onto the sixth court on April 4 for the match against Colorado, O’Sullivan provided a spark for the Sun Devils. She led 6-1, 5-0 in this match before it was called, and was in the tiebreaker of the second set against a ranked player the next weekend. She provided key play late in the season, losing just one match in April, one that went to three sets.

Reach the reporter at logan.newman@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman