ASU tennis ups its physicality in preparation for Montana State, San Jose State

After a tournament against three top-30 teams, ASU women’s tennis returns to Tempe to play Montana State and No. 68 San Jose State.

Coach Sheila McInerney said the tough weekend took a toll on her players.

“They came away from the weekend being pretty physically and mentally tired,” McInerney said.


Sophomore Ebony Panoho said the weekend gave them a good sense of where they are compared to other teams.

The team took Monday off and returned to practice Tuesday with a little less intensity, focusing mainly on conditioning and running.

“We’ll probably get back at it hard on Wednesday and Thursday,” McInerney said.

ASU plays Montana State on Saturday, Feb. 1. The Bobcats are unranked, and none of their players are ranked, either.

“Montana State is probably going to be as strong, but that doesn’t mean much,” McInerney said. “We just gotta go out there and play hard.”

Sophomore Stephanie Vlad said the team typically practices sets of singles and doubles play.

“That’s probably the most beneficial thing we can do, since it’s as realistic as it can get,” Vlad said.

Panoho said the team will work to get better fit to keep stamina in longer matches.

“We do weight training and also some other stuff like some running and conditioning,” Panoho said.

She said they do this to be able to compete for longer stretches of time. This was something they struggled with in the ITA Kick-Off Tournament.

McInerney said the team needed to become more physical.

“(We’ll do) some really good drills to make sure the kids are really moving, getting their legs under them,” she said.

McInerney said they’ll focus on individual drills such as a 20-ball drill, moving back and forth along the baseline and building leg strength.

"Match play is almost easier than practice,” McInerney said. “When you go out and play the game itself, physically, sometimes it’s not as difficult.”

Physical practices help maintain energy and stamina on the court. The goal is to work hard in practice, then let the extra intensity of the game fuel the athlete forward.

ASU will take on No. 68 San Jose State on Sunday, Feb. 2. ASU defeated the Spartans last year.

McInerney complimented the team's top-two players, senior Sabastiani Leon Chao and freshman Marie Klocker. The pair have played as the No. 1 and No. 2 slots interchangeably this season.

The singles matches against the top-two Spartans will likely fall on the shoulders of Vlad and sophomore Desirae Krawczyk. The two are ranked No. 50 and No. 91, respectively.

After last week’s matches, McInerney said the doubles teams played well. The three duos consisted of juniors Leighann Sahagun and Joanna Smith, Vlad and Panoho, and Krawczyk and freshman Kassidy Jump.

McInerney said she is not sure if the duos would say together this weekend. She has been toying with her doubles pairings since the fall season.

ASU faces Montana State on Saturday, Feb. 1, and San Jose State on Feb. 2. Both matches start at noon and take place at the Whiteman Tennis Center.

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