ASU tennis downs Utah, clinches undefeated home record
In a match that consisted of two third sets and a tiebreaker set, No. 23 ASU women's tennis took on No. 31 Utah in a Pac-12-televised match and won 4-2.
The match could have gone either way. Not until sophomore No. 60 Stephanie Vlad forced her opponent, junior No. 79 Tereza Bekerova, to hit the ball into the net on the final point of the third set did ASU have the victory.
Prior to the match, ASU coach Sheila McInerney said Utah’s doubles teams were stronger than those of Colorado. This sentiment came true: ASU lost two sets and didn't need the deciding third set. Junior Leighann Sahagun and freshman Kassidy Jump were dispatched quickly in a 8-2 affair, leaving courts one and three to battle.
Sophomore Desirae Krawczyk and freshman Alex Osborne fell behind 5-2, and it looked to be a demoralizing doubles match. They caught up though, tying the score at five.
“We just started being more aggressive,” Krawczyk said.
She added that they took more chances and attacked the net more often.
They traded points with their opponents, eventually tying the score at seven and heading into a tiebreaker round.
Sophomores Stephanie Vlad and Ebony Panoho took a 7-4 lead and looked to be in control on court three.
It was for naught, though, as Krawczyk and Osborne lost the tiebreaker round 7-2. They didn’t win, but they had boosted confidence heading into singles play.
Singles started smoothly. On five of the six courts, ASU won the first set, and the Sun Devils looked to be in control. Many players began to struggle in set two, though.
McInerney said Utah has talented players, even outside the ranked Bekerova. Seniors Sarah Pham and Callie Craig, she said, are good players that make opponents work for points.
Jump, against Craig, won the first set 6-1. Jump lost the second set 6-4 and went into the third set.
Krawczyk, who won 6-4, traded points back and forth in the second before she finally stopped “beating (herself) up” and pulling away by shaping the ball more.
Sahagun and freshman Gussie O’Sullivan proved to be the stable individuals in this match. Sahagun won 6-1, 6-2 and O’Sullivan took care of business on court six. When they were done, ASU held the slimmest of leads at 3-2.
Vlad won the first set 6-2, but Bekerova came back strong in set two and won 6-3. They went into a vital third set.
Either Vlad or Jump had to win their third set for ASU to get the victory.
Jump quickly fell behind 4-0. Vlad, after taking a 4-1 lead, saw it slip to 4-3. She was getting frustrated, feeling like she was losing the match for her team on television, but noticed Bekerova’s backhand was especially strong.
“The last two games of that I just tried hitting everything to her forehand,” she said.
Vlad did just this, and won two points quickly, including all four serves of the clinching point.
ASU won 4-2, clinching what McInerney said was its first season with an undefeated home record.
“It was a big day for us. We had the Pac-12 Networks here filming … undefeated at home, last home match, I think it gives us feeling pretty good about ourselves going into (U)SC (and) UCLA,” McInerney said.
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