ISU tennis heads to Texas for second leg of Big 12 play

Max Dible

Iowa State is headed to Texas for spring break.

For the Cyclones, the jaunt to the Lone Star State is not a vacation meant for pleasure, but a business trip, as they try to right their ship, thrown off course by three consecutive losses.

The ISU tennis team (8-7, 0-2 Big 12) faced ranked opponents in its last three meets. This weekend is no different as the team heads south to take on No. 21 Texas and No. 14 Baylor.

The Cyclones are at a decided disadvantage traveling south, as they will play both weekend matches outdoors — something the team has done on only three occasions during its 15-meet season. 

ISU coach Armando Espinosa said that even though the weather in Iowa has not allowed his squad to practice outside once all season, the trip to Texas is going to be helpful for a team that has lost its last three contests.

“For us, being outside is going to help just because we have not been outside,” Espinosa said. “We were in Florida a couple of times, but I think we are pretty tired of being cooped up.”

Not all of Espinosa’s players share his sunny disposition about playing in the great wide open.

Junior Meghan Cassens, freshman Talisa Merchiers and freshman Samantha Budai said they all prefer playing indoors.

“The toughest part is dealing with the elements, whether it is windy or sunny,” Cassens said. “But, you just have to get over it.”

It is more than just the elements that put the Cyclones at a disadvantage, however.

“[Texas and Baylor] are training outside all the time and we are not,” Budai said. “Playing outside is not my favorite, but we have nothing to lose.”

Budai, who has been in and out of the lineup due to injury, missed the singles matches in the conference openers against Kansas and Kansas State last weekend. She did participate in doubles.

Budai said she will be a full participant this upcoming weekend in the Lone Star State.

Espinosa said that while getting Budai, his No. 2 singles player, back in the lineup is a substantial boost to the team, it does not make the task of going to Texas and winning any less daunting.

In an effort to even the playing field, or the playing court as it were, Espinosa made some adjustments to Iowa State’s itinerary.

“There are going to be so many different challenges for us,” Espinosa said. “Being outdoors and getting used to it is one of them. That is why we are leaving a little bit early on Wednesday. Hopefully we can try and get a couple [outdoor] practices in Wednesday and Thursday.”

The Cyclones will find out soon if the extra practice time will make a difference, as they take to the court at 6 p.m. Friday, March 21 to battle the Texas.

Iowa State gets Saturday off for travel, and will meet Baylor at 1 p.m. Sunday in Waco, Texas to round out the weekend.