ASU tennis returns to game action against Pepperdine
After a two-week vacation from game action, the ASU women’s tennis team will travel to the ultimate vacation destination to put in work: Malibu, Calif., to take on No. 44 Pepperdine University.
The Waves boast a lineup that consists of five ranked players. The highest ranked is junior Lorraine Guillermo, ranked No. 19 in singles play.
“She’s not going to make many mistakes,” ASU coach Sheila McInerney said. “She volleys well (and) she moves really well.”
Sophomore No. 50 Stephanie Vlad will be play Guillermo in a rematch of a top-50 showdown Vlad lost over the summer.
“I think (Vlad) is looking forward to getting the chance to play her again,” McInerney said. “She realizes she’s going to have to be a little bit more aggressive probably than the last time.”
Sophomore No. 91 Desirae Krawczyk has been stuck in the No. 2 slot behind Vlad but has won matches consistently for the Sun Devils. She will likely be tasked against sophomore No. 79 Matea Cutura.
In addition to the challenging opponent, Krawczyk has been dealing with a groin injury. She returned to practice Tuesday after injuring it in practice the previous week.
McInerney said Krawczyk is back to full health now, though.
Pepperdine’s other three ranked players are senior Ale Granillo, sophomore Michaela Capannolo and freshman Yuki Chiang, who are ranked No. 93, 112 and 117, respectively.
This competition may be tougher than most players on ASU have experienced, but McInerney said her players aren’t treating Pepperdine differently.
“Tennis is tennis,” she said. “They’ve played ranked kids all through their juniors.”
With five ranked players, finding effective doubles pairings was made easier for Pepperdine coach Adam Steinberg. Two of the Waves' pairings are ranked.
The No. 39 pair consists of Guillermo and Granillo, and one spot below them sits Capannolo and Chiang.
ASU juniors Leighann Sahagun and Joanna Smith, who have recently been the No. 1 seed on the ASU doubles teams, will have their hands full with whoever they play.
McInerney acknowledged that though the duo played well against No. 15 Northwestern University, they have struggled in recent matches.
McInerney said Sahagun and Smith might switch sides on the court to attempt to overcome recent struggles.
McInerney also said that because Krawczyk has been limited in practice, she will probably remain with freshman Kassidy Jump in doubles this week. Vlad and sophomore Ebony Panoho have played together often and will likely play together in California as well.
Despite the well-documented play of many Pepperdine athletes, ASU is ranked above them in the team rankings.
McInerney said this is due to Pepperdine’s injury-riddled performance last season. She compared its current team to Northwestern and Notre Dame.
“They’re a step ahead of some of the other teams that we’ve played so far, and so we’re going to have to be really prepared,” she said.
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