Tennis takes advantage of lay off from competition

Losing one opportunity often means gaining another.

For the ASU women’s tennis team, the new opportunity comes in the form of a long break from competition.

The Sun Devils(3-1)didn’t qualify for the ITA National Indoor Tournament after dropping a close match to No. 9 Miami in their first match against a top-10 team this season.

“I think we were incredible," senior Hannah James said. "Our effort was incredible, our attitude was so good. We put up a good fight. It just sucks that Miami put up a better fight.”

Since ASU didn’t qualify for the tournament, the team now has a 17-day layoff until it play its next match against San Jose State.

Because of the break, the team has shifted the focus of its practices by taking advantage of the extra time to get in better shape.

“Recently, (practices) have been a lot more physical," freshman Stephanie Vlad said. "We’re doing a lot more conditioning now, which I think is a good thing. I think it’s only going to help us in the long run."

A part of the Sun Devils’ more rigorous practice schedule has included leaving the tennis court altogether. The team ventured across Rural Road to the football team’s indoor practice facility for part of its workout.

The emphasis on conditioning is what coach Sheila McInerney called “a more physical brand of tennis,” which comes as a result of the physical style that Miami played with.

The Hurricanes dictated the match by playing longer points and spreading the court and wore ASU down.

“I think Miami pushed us around a little bit," McInerney said. "They were a little bit more physical than we were, so that’s probably what we’ve been stressing the most this week."

For Vlad, the lengthy break gives her the opportunity to improve some aspects of her game she wasn’t happy with.

“I need to work more on my serves; that definitely showed in some of my matches,” Vlad said. “I’m trying to be more aggressive and work my way into the court more and not relying on my physicality to win my matches.”

The break also gives injured Sun Devils a chance to heal and recover.

James is nursing an injured foot that she had surgery on in the offseason to repair an overgrown nerve.

“It’s still on the mend," James said. "It’s not 100 percent better. It’s still in the process of healing.

Despite the injuries, McInerney believes her team should be ready to compete.

“These two weeks should help anybody that has any bumps and bruises, but I think overall we’re in good shape health-wise,” McInerney said.

The Sun Devils’ next match is Wednesday, Feb. 13 against San Jose State at the Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe. The match is the first of a seven-game home stand for ASU.


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