Doubles point proves critical in Cyclones’ meet success


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Senior Meghan Cassens serves the ball during Iowa State’s 5-2 loss to Drake on Mar.7 at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center.

Max Dible

There are so many variables that exist in any sporting event that make predicting an accurate outcome a difficult chore. However, Iowa State has found a true barometer for its success, or lack there of, in the form of the doubles point.

“When we have won the doubles point, we have won every meet,” said ISU coach Armando Espinosa. “When we have lost the doubles point, we have lost every meet. That kind of tells you how crucial the doubles point plays in terms of momentum and the mentality of the team.”

The ISU tennis team (8-5, 0-0 Big 12) held true to the doubles pattern March 7 when it went head to head with No. 72 Drake (8-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley).

The Cyclones won at No. 1 doubles and lost at the No. 3 slot, leaving the point to be decided by junior Meghan Cassens and sophomore Ana Gasparovic at the No. 2 position.

Supporters of both teams surrounded the court cheering their sides on, creating an atmosphere impossible to recreate in singles as the courts are all in use simultaneously, which forces the spectators to the far edges of the action.

The match was characterized by long rallies between the two squads and lasted nearly two hours.

The bout within a bout was finally decided by an 8-7 score after a 7-4 tiebreak win for the Bulldogs, leaving the Cyclone players dejected after such a narrow defeat.

“It was rough for me,” Cassens said. “I was pretty exhausted by the time for singles. We have had a few tough losses in doubles this season and I have been trying to work on not bringing it into my singles.”

That is a task not so easily accomplished, as junior Ksenia Pronina pointed out two weeks ago after another close loss at doubles to a ranked opponent, this time against Marshall.

“We were so close to getting the doubles point and I think everyone was a little disappointed,” Pronina said. “We were still caught up in the moment and missed the opportunities at singles because of that.”

The three doubles matches played in every meet combine to account for only one of the seven total points up for grabs. Yet for the Cyclones, it has been the most important point every week because of its potential to set the tone for the tennis that takes place in the the singles matches that follow.

“It is about the momentum,” Espinosa said. “If you win, at that point you are looking at only needing to win three matches in singles instead of having to win four out of six.”

Pronina said that it is not just about working to win more doubles points, but working to make sure that a doubles loss does not dictate the outcome of every meet and guarantee a loss.

“You just have to forget about it,” Pronina said. “You have to focus on singles and leave it behind.”

The Cyclones will need solid performances in the doubles format this weekend as they get set to take on No. 33 Kansas at home March 14, and No. 58 Kansas State on March 16.