ASU tennis team enjoys successful weekend at Thunderbird Invitational

Stephanie Vlad volleys the ball over the net during a match against Cal’s Klara Fabikova on Sunday, November 10, 2013. Vlad finished third at this years, ASU Thunderbird Invitational at the Whiteman Tennis Center. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman) Stephanie Vlad volleys the ball over the net during a match against Cal’s Klara Fabikova on Sunday, November 10, 2013. Vlad finished third at this years, ASU Thunderbird Invitational at the Whiteman Tennis Center. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Sophomore Stephanie Vlad’s third place finish at the Thunderbird Invitational highlighted a successful weekend for the ASU women’s tennis team.

Vlad came ready to play, and it paid off for her.

“I was really fired up to play from the get-go,” Vlad said. “I thought I played really well every day of the tournament.”

On her road to third place, Vlad defeated the No. 23 and No. 44 players in the country, Cal sophomores Klara Fabikova and Lynn Chi. She lost in the semifinals to the tournament champion, Cal freshman Denise Starr.

Vlad, who also beat Notre Dame senior No. 35 Britney Sanders at the Wolverine Invitational, only has two singles losses. The losses came against Starr and Michigan sophomore No. 36 Ronit Yurovsky.

McInerney attributes Vlad’s success to hard work, especially after coming back from an ACL tear.

“You reap what you sow,” McInerney said. “She’s worked really hard getting herself into incredible shape. … She’s striking the ball really well, but she’s really gotten her fitness level up, and with that I think comes confidence.”

Because of an injury, Vlad didn’t compete against Cal last season. She said having success against them in Thunderbird added to her confidence.

“Playing as many Cal players as I did, and competing as well as I did and getting some big wins gave me a lot of confidence,” Vlad said. “It’s really encouraging to know that I’m right up there with (Cal).”

The Sun Devils’ doubles play was vastly improved during the Wolverine Invitational. They went 2-7 in Michigan, compared to 5-4 this weekend.

“For doubles, it’s early … you want to figure what teams you want to play together,” McInerney said. “Conversely, you realize what teams really don’t make a good mix.”

One team that did make a good mix was sophomores Desirae Krawczyk and Ebony Panoho. After winning their match on Saturday, McInerney kept them together Sunday and they won again.

Krawczyk joked that they “complete each other.” McInerney likes them together because they both have “big firepower.”

Overall, McInerney thought the tournament went well even though she would have liked to see one of her players win it. McInerney said she is thankful, nonetheless, for the amount of competition they faced.

“It was a great weekend with good weather,” McInerney said. “You always want to have one of your kids win it, but second to that would be making sure you get some really good competition.”

After dealing with injuries since the Wolverine Invitational, McInerney thought it was somewhat ironic that the team stayed healthy despite a long weekend of competition.

“Obviously, their conditioning and fitness was tested in a tough, long weekend,” McInerney said. “Knock on wood, everybody came away pretty healthy.”

This was the 19th annual Thunderbird Invitational. McInerney said she is already excited for the 20th installment next season.

Reach the reporter at ewebeck@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @EWeebs


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