A young Iowa State tennis team prepares for a month-long road stint

Max Dible

The ISU tennis team heads to Milwaukee this weekend for the first leg of a road trip that will span the entire month of February.

The Cyclones will kick off the weekend with a match up at 4:00 p.m. Friday against Marquette, and follow that up with a contest at 12:00 p.m. Saturday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Iowa State is a young team, starting two freshman and one sophomore in their six-spot singles rotation, but having played tennis since the fall has seasoned some of the youthful Cyclone talent.

Freshman Samantha Budai said the first part of the season was instrumental in preparing her for the mental and physical rigors that the next month away from home will present.

“In the fall there were a lot of matches because it was all tournaments with five or six other schools. Now we only play one or two teams a day,” Budai said. “It was a lot of tennis, but it definitely helped me.”

Budai said the fall season also aided in her maturation process as a player, helping her to enter the spring season with a more veteran mindset.

“I definitely feel more experienced,” Budai said. “I’ve been here for a while now, which is nice because I don’t feel like an outsider anymore.”

The multitude of matches in late 2013 also helped freshman Lydia Green find her bearings, but the change-up in format from the fall to the spring season has had an adverse effect on Green’s comfort level.

“Nerves are still an issue,” Green said. “I found it easier with the tournaments because I was more used to it, but now playing the draw matches I feel like I’m back to square one. You have your teammates right next to you and you can look down the line and see everybody’s scores. I get kind of nervous with that.”

Green has developed her own, unique way of dealing with her nerves when they start to rear up during a match.

“I do this thing where I go to the back of the court and I grab my racket as hard as I can, then I release it,” Green said. “I’m quite a nervous person, so I had to find some techniques to deal with it.”

Iowa State will head out Thursday night to take on Marquette on Friday afternoon, against whom the Cyclones have gone 1-1 over the last two years. Junior Meghan Cassens was a part of both previous match-ups.

“We lost to them last year,” Cassens said. “It’s definitely a team we are able to beat, but it will be tough.”

That contest will be followed by a meet on Saturday at noon with Wisconsin-Milwaukee before the Cyclones head back to Ames on Saturday night, and get ready to do it all again the following week.

Iowa State won’t be looking at the month-long road trip as a daunting task to be overcome by a young team, but rather as an opportunity.

“Going on the road is exciting,” Green said. “I really enjoy traveling with the team. We get to go new places and play different people. [In a few weeks] we get to go to Miami. It doesn’t get much better than that.”