Tennis team bounces toward Gopher Invitational

Mark Schafer

Summer may be cooling off, but for the ISU tennis team, that just means it is time to warm up for the upcoming season.

Like other spring sports, the tennis season does not officially begin until spring semester. However, the schedule presents plenty of chances for the players to warm up for the 2012 season.

“The results in the fall are not as important as they are in the spring, so it should help us get rid of some of the nerves when we play,” said coach Armando Espinosa. “We get to compete and incorporate new things into our games.”

For the Cyclones, the first chance for them to play as a team outside of practice will be this weekend, when the team heads up to Minneapolis for the Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota, on Friday through Sunday.

Last season, the Cyclones had mixed results and finished the year with a 10-16 record. Of the 16 losses, eight came in the final eight tournaments of the year, including the season-ending Big 12 championship matches.

In order for the team to avoid another eight-match slide, Espinosa said, the Cyclones must continue to improve on their game and the gains they had made in the previous weeks and during practice.

“[We need to keep] improving. We have accomplished a lot of things as a team in the past few years, but we need to continue to do the right things,” Espinosa said. “This time we need to do them better so we can continue to improve.”

Assistant coach Rodrigo Puebla agreed: “If the team can continue to improve week in and week out, we will have a good season.”

As the season progresses, the team will try to use its mix of both new and returning players to help the Cyclones stay competitive.

The experience of the players as well as the schedule will provide a nice jumping in period for the team, Espinosa said.

“We really have high expectations for this year’s team. We combine a lot of experience from the returners and add three freshmen that hopefully will be able to contribute,” Espinosa said. “We should have the maturity from four seniors and three juniors.”

Two of those returning seniors, Tessa Lang and Maria Fernanda Macedo, are ones the coaches hope will help improve the performance of the squad.

Lang and Macedo were the two top performers for the Cyclones a year ago, and they were also the No. 1 doubles team a year ago and have experience together that could prove valuable, Puebla said.

“Maria Fernanda Macedo and Tessa Lang played together last year, which always helps, knowing how your partner plays,” Puebla said. “That is something you can’t teach.”

Espinosa is hoping a great season from the two as well. “We are expecting big things from them in their last year,” he said.