Cyclones battle noise, Bulldogs come away with victory


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Meghan Cassens, junior in marketing, hustles to the ball during Iowa State’s 5-2 loses to Drake on March 7 at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center.

Max Dible

When Iowa State met Drake March 7 in Ames it was not only the intensity that was turned up, but the volume as well.

Often, the most prominent sounds heard inside Ames Racquet and Fitness during an ISU meet are the hollow pops of tennis balls bouncing off of racquets, or an occasional shout of success or frustration from a player.

That was not the case when the ISU tennis team (8-5, 0-0 Big 12) took on Drake (8-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley) as the Bulldogs made it their mission to be as loud as they possibly could — and not just when they were cheering on their teammates from the sidelines, but in the middle of their matches as well.

“They have always been this way,” said junior Ksenia Pronina. “It is annoying, but there is nothing you can do about it. It bothers you, yes, especially when you are down it gets really hard to ignore it, but you have to deal with it.”

Drake players appeared to be having shouted conversations between one another, as Bulldogs involved in matches were actively engaging in abbreviated bursts of communication with one another between points.

The Bulldogs did not typically speak in full sentences, but more in verbal symbols, using only one or two words that had some sort of insider, convoluted meaning known only to the Drake players themselves.

“We know how they are,” said junior Meghan Cassens. “When they do better, they are a little louder. In singles it is even more obnoxious because you have got it on both sides.”

What made it more difficult for the Cyclones was how long they were forced to listen to the Drake players, as the slug fest between the two in-state rivals stretched deep into the night, lasting for more than five hours.

Ultimately, Drake came out the victor by a final score of 5-2 — a tally that does not reflect accurately just how close the meet was. The Cyclones lost two singles points in the third set, and blew a late lead at No. 2 doubles, which cost them a third point.

ISU coach Armando Espinosa said the entire meet came down to a few shots here and there, but that the chattering Bulldogs were not an excuse he would accept for his team coming up short.

“The talking did get into our heads, but you have to learn to live with it,” Espinosa said. “They were not doing anything illegal. It is obnoxious, but if you want to shut it out, you have to do it with the racquet. You beat them with the racquet and there is no talk. But we did not, so they can talk as much as they want.”

Another issue for Iowa State was the health of No. 2 singles player Samantha Budai.

Budai, who was already struggling with tendonitis, strained her hip going for a ball halfway through her first set.

Budai gutted out the rest of the match, ultimately falling to Mariel Ante in the third set, but was limping visibly throughout the action, and badly after it concluded.

Espinosa said Budai will be evaluated early in the week and her status for the Big 12 opener versus Kansas will be determined then.

While Budai was the only player limping, all the Cyclones appeared exhausted after what Cassens said was perhaps the team’s most difficult match of the season.

“We all knew going in that it was going to be hard,” Cassens said. “But our coaches were expecting us to win and we were expecting that too, so it was disappointing.”

Iowa State hopes to resolve its recent disappointment with a win at 3 p.m. Mar. 14 against Kansas at Ames Racquet and Fitness.