Freshman duo starts off collegiate careers on strong note


Photo: David Merrill/Iowa State Daily

Photo: Senior Erin Karonis forehands a shot over the net during a rally against Texas on Saturday. The Cyclones number one singles player struggled, though, losing both her doubles and singles matches. Texas took the overall victory 5-2. David Merrill/Iowa State Daily

Michael Schmitt

While the ISU tennis team is full of experience with seven upperclassmen, two of the biggest contributors so far this season have been freshmen.

Meghan Cassens and Ksenia Pronina both have 3-2 records this season and have been a big reason the team has come close to winning a few matches.

Cassens said after she committed to Iowa State last spring, she took time off from playing in tournaments. When she arrived to Iowa State, she had to go from zero to 100, especially since she was returning from an injury.

“We started off really far behind everyone else when we came here because we didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was,” Cassens said. “We really worked hard to get back in shape, and for as hard as we have been working, it has paid off and has kind of catapulted us from the first couple months that we were here.”

Cassens said the biggest reason for her and Pronina’s success is they are always “fighting hard and not giving up” when they’re down.

Cassens has spent the majority of her time this season at the No. 4 singles spot while also playing No. 5 for a few games. She is 2-1 in the No. 4 spot and 1-1 in the No. 5 position.

Pronina has been in the No. 2 spot all season and also competes in doubles with junior Simona Cacciuttolo.

In the fall season, Cassens claimed her first collegiate tournament championship at the Kansas Invitational. Pronina also did well in the tournament, placing second in her bracket.

The pair began their collegiate careers at Iowa State playing doubles together in their first tournament, the UNI Invitational. They defeated their opponents 8-to-6 and won the doubles championship.

Coach Armando Espinosa said the reason Cassens and Pronina have been so successful, especially as freshmen, is because of their consistency on the court. Senior Maria Fernanda Macedo echoed his thoughts.

“They both fight really hard and run for every ball; they’re very consistent,” Macedo said. “They will just put a lot of balls in the court, and that’s going to help them a lot. They need to just keep doing that.”