Tennis to host Thunderbird Invite in home debut

Tennis coach Sheila McInerney (right) offers advice to one of her players during a Sept. 19 practice. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

The ASU tennis team will host the 18th annual ASU Thunderbird Invitational on Friday at the Whiteman Tennis Center. The invitational will continue until Sunday.

The team will compete against players from BYU, California, Kansas State, Ohio State, Michigan and San Diego in its first home competition this year.

The Sun Devils last competed at the ITA Regional Championships in San Diego nearly three weeks ago.

The home court should pose as an advantage for the Sun Devils, who won all but two home matches last season. The Sun Devils have a combined 20-4 record at home over the past two seasons with three losses coming against ranked opponents.

Like the previous tournaments this year, four players will be competing in singles and doubles.

Sophomore Joanna Smith will be the only returning player for this tournament from the previous year, when she finished with an auxiliary win against Ohio State junior Kelsey Becker 6-0, 6-2.

This tournament should be a fair assessment of what to expect come January.

The Sun Devils will face some very tough, but familiar competition this weekend, and can use this tournament to scout Pac-12 rival California, who returns to Tempe in April.

While there still is time to figure out what the roster will look like for the regular season in the spring, this tournament should definitely help out with where each girl stands.

One thing coach Sheila McInerney was persistent about in September was making sure the players were all healthy. That seems to be the case so far. The players must continue to stay healthy throughout the year in order to make a playoff push.

ASU may have the advantage of playing at home, but the weather will not be in its favor. Friday looks to be a cool 75 degrees with a chance of rain, where Saturday and Sunday look to drop down to a high of 64 and 63, respectively.


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