ASU tennis earns second place at ITA Kick-Off Weekend

The ASU women’s tennis team traveled to Illinois to compete in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament against Northwestern, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. Despite the long travel, the Sun Devils still finished second to Northwestern.

The tournament, the first road match of the season, pitted them in conditions to which the team was unaccustomed — an indoor court.

No. 26 ASU played No. 21 Notre Dame in the first round of the single elimination tournament.

The teams started with three rounds of doubles play. Sophomore Quinn Gleason and senior Britney Sanders of Notre Dame, ranked No. 30 in doubles, defeated ASU juniors Leighann Sahagun and Joanna Smith, 6-2.

Sophomores Ebony Panoho and Stephanie Vlad won their doubles match 6-3, and sophomore Desirae Krawczyk and freshman Kassidy Jump teamed up to earn a 7-5 victory and get the point.

The Sun Devils won three straight singles matches to take the victory 4-0 and move onto the championship match.

No. 91 ranked Krawczyk played against No. 67 Gleason, who had defeated Krawczyk earlier in the school year.

Krawczyk remembered the loss and said it made her angry and motivated her.

She won the first set, 6-1, but Gleason was able to defeat her in the second set, 6-4.

The new ITA rules were in effect for the third set. Instead of a full set, the two played a match-breaker to 10 points.

Krawczyk won the set, winning ASU its fourth point and ending the match.

“It’s a great win. ... They’re ranked ahead of us,” coach Sheila McInerney said. “It was a tough match; we competed well.”

The next day, the Sun Devils returned to the court to take on No. 15 Northwestern in the championship match.

McInerney said ASU would have to play better against the Wildcats than it did against Notre Dame, especially because they had home-court advantage.

Smith and Sahagun, who had very little experience together in doubles before the tournament, played against the No. 35 duo of senior Veronica Corning and sophomore Alicia Barnett.

The ASU pair fell, 6-4, but McInerney said they played well.

“It was good, high-quality, aggressive doubles,” McInerney said.

The other two games were neck-and-neck.

Panoho and Vlad took their doubles match into a tie-breaker before eventually falling.

“We lost a tough one, a match point at number two,” McInerney said. “That sort of hurt our momentum a little bit."

Northwestern had the edge going into singles.

Sahagun was defeated in two sets (6-2, 6-3). Vlad lost for the first time in the year (6-3, 6-2).

“(Vlad)'s a little bit more of a counter-puncher than a big hitter, so I think the conditions and playing indoors favored Corning,” McInerney said.

Freshman Alex Osborne played in a non-exhibition match for the first time at ASU. She was defeated (6-3, 6-1).

“I don’t think we played poorly,” McInerney said. “Certainly, we could’ve played better, but I thought Northwestern played very well. ... It stinks to lose, but credit to Northwestern for really stepping up and playing very well."

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