ISU tennis returns home after a month on the road


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Junior Meghan Cassens saves 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 returns to home Feb. 28 for its first match in Ames in nearly a month, facing off in a double header against Bradley and South Dakota.

The ISU tennis team comes off a difficult weekend in Minneapolis where it was swept in consecutive meets by Minnesota and Marshall.

The Cyclones played the weekend’s second meet against the Thundering Herd without freshman and No. 2 singles player Samantha Budai, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

Junior Meghan Cassens said that the extended road schedule played a factor in the Cyclones’ sub-par performance last weekend, but that general fatigue has been building as well.

“We’re all kind of mentally drained,” Cassens said. “At this point [in the season] that is how it always is, whether that should be the case or not. We’re all a little exhausted.”

ISU coach Armando Espinosa said that juggling tennis and school is difficult for his players, most of whom have not been to a Thursday or Friday class in nearly a month.

Junior Ksenia Pronina said that for her, the process of refocusing will be easier now that she has a few weeks at home.

“I think all of us are tired,” Pronina said. “It gives us a chance to breathe a little bit. Hopefully it will give us an advantage.”

Pronina said that her motivation to fend off any mid-season ruts is the urgency she feels now that her collegiate tennis career is more than half over.

“I am not going to do this for my entire life,” Pronina said. “I only have one and a half more seasons left, so I have to take every match I can get right now.”

It was not merely fatigue that had the Cyclones on their heels last weekend. Espinosa said that his young team still gets psyched out occasionally when taking on big name opponents like Minnesota or ranked opponents like Marshall.

“We are right there,” Espinosa said. “We just need a little more of a belief from the group that we belong there and [can win].”

Cassens said the Cyclones were somewhat defeated heading into the weekend, and that they need to work on seeing tough opponents as an opportunity, not an insurmountable obstacle.

The upcoming schedule also includes Drake, so the Cyclones have three very winnable meets coming up to get their current slump figured out, Cassens said.

Iowa State will attempt a turn-around this weekend as they match-up with Bradley and South Dakota in back-to-back meets at 10 a.m. Feb. 28 at Ames Racquet and Fitness.