ISU tennis reignited by emotional victories


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Junior Meghan Cassens hustles to the ball during Iowa State’s 7-0 defeat of North Dakota on Jan. 31 at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center.

Max Dible

Iowa State took to the hard court Friday in what was perhaps its most precarious position all season.

The ISU tennis team (8-4, 0-0 Big 12) had lost its previous two meets handily, and three of its last six coming into the double header against Bradley and South Dakota.

Freshman Samantha Budai, battling tendonitis in both knees and her shoulder, was forced out of all but one doubles match on the weekend, which put extra strain on the team.

The Cyclones were exhausted mentally and physically from the drain of what has already amounted to a six-month-long season, and they had not yet played even one match within the Big 12, one of the strongest tennis conferences in the nation.

Junior Meghan Cassens admitted that fatigue and a lack of confidence had a sizable hand in the Cyclones mini-slump and that emotions were running a little high.

“[Getting too emotional] can hurt me,” Cassens said. “I have a little bit of an anger problem.”

Friday at Ames Racquet and Fitness, the Cyclones re-purposed their frustrations, using them as a catalyst to two 7-0 sweeps of both Bradley and South Dakota on a long day of tennis.

The most evident boiling-over took place at No. 6 singles during the second meet with South Dakota, where freshman Lydia Green squared off with Michelle Elkin.

Exactly three points in to the first game of the first set, Green and Elkin met at the net and shared a heated dispute on the score. The problem was, due to a lack of availability, there was no referee present to settle the argument.

“The rule is that if you can’t recall every point, you have to go back to the last point that you agree on, so we had to go back to the score [Elkin] thought it was,” Green said. “After that I was kind of pissed, because I decided I didn’t really like my opponent.”

Both Cassens and Green said that getting too worked up can have negative affects on the way they play, but that it can also work the other way, as it did on Friday.

“Usually [getting upset] is more destructive than helpful for me,” Green said. “But sometimes, it can empower you.”

Green said the dynamic of a call or score dispute changes a good deal with the absence of a referee, which factored in to the nature of her confrontation.

“This is the first match that we haven’t had [referees],” Green said. “I found it difficult because when you have an argument, your coaches can’t just side with you.”

ISU coach Armando Espinosa said that the girls had to police themselves because the pool of officials is small and that there was a good deal of Midwest tennis action happening Friday, which drew it even thinner.

“For not having officials, I thought it was a pretty clean match,” Espinosa said. “There were a couple of calls here and there, but overall … it was a very clean match.”

Iowa State will host Drake Friday, Mar. 7 in Ames in its last opportunity for a tune-up before diving headfirst into the gauntlet that is the Big 12. Matches are set to begin at 5 p.m.