Cyclones say goodbye to three seniors


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Senior Erin Karonis competes against Texas A&M’s Nazari Urbina during the match on Friday. Karonis lost to Urbina, and Iowa State lost overall with a score of 4-3.

Clint Cole

The ISU tennis team played one last home meet Saturday against No. 25 Texas, a match it lost 5-2. Before the meet the Cyclones had a ceremony honoring three seniors.

The Cyclones will be saying goodbye to Erin Karonis, Reka Kelemen and Liza Wischer at the conclusion of this season.

During their time as ISU tennis players, the three seniors have seen a few nasty streaks come to an end. During the 2008-2009 season, coach Armando Espinosa’s first season at the helm, the Cyclones defeated Kansas State for their first Big 12 win since 2002. Last season, the Cyclones defeated Missouri and Colorado and had two conference wins for the first time since the 2001 season, and earlier this season the Cyclones defeated Colorado on the road. It was their first conference win on the road since 1997.

“They’ve seen the most changes,” Espinosa said. “It’s enjoyable to be around them because they bring so much energy to the meets or to practice.”

Espinosa said that one of the big things they did at Iowa State was buying into the tennis program with their energy.

Karonis is from Ivyland, Penn., and has been given a few different awards and honors. Karonis was awarded All-Big 12 honors in 2009, academic All-Big 12 in 2009 and 2010 and was the Big 12 player of the week April 20, 2009.

Karonis also has the most conference regular season singles wins in ISU history with 11, and had seven in 2008-2009, which is the most in a single season. Karonis improved a lot playing at the No. 1 spot all four years.

“It was kind of tough her first year because she only won one Big 12 meet,” Espinosa said. “Her leadership in terms of stepping on the court and everybody having confidence that she is going to give us a chance to win that point, it’s huge.”

Kelemen is from Budapest, Hungary. She was a very valuable source of positive energy and hard work despite not being in the lineup very often. She received ISU Scholar-Athlete and All-Cyclone Team honors in 2009, and most improved player and best attitude in 2008. She was also on the Dean’s List in the fall semesters in 2008 and 2009.

“Even though she hasn’t played, she hasn’t given up. She’s still come to practice,” Espinosa said. “She’s done a good job trying to make the person that’s on the other side of the net better.”

Kelemen said that the tennis team got better in front of her eyes through four years at Iowa State.

“My role on the team was to really be a supporting teammate and neutralize any conflict and help out with always being there for your teammates,” Kelemen said.

Kelemen recalled her freshman year when she played the “longest match of her life.” The match, which was the deciding match against Drake, lasted more than four hours. She ended up winning the match and clinching the meet for the Cyclones.

“I was suddenly faced with being responsible for the team,” Kelemen said. “My hands decided whether the team was going to win or lose.”

Liza Wischer is from Grand Forks, N.D. She has also made in impact on the school record book. She is No. 19 in overall career wins in singles and doubles combined with 85. In 2009-2010 she had six conference singles wins, which is second right behind Karonis. She was the Cyclones MVP in 2010 and was given hardest worker honors in 2008 and 2009. She was given Academic All-Big 12, second team honors in 2010. Espinosa talked about her ability as a “clincher.”

“She’s just been clinching left and right,” Espinosa said. “A lot of the matches that we won 4-3 have come down to her, which is a tough spot to be in.”

Wischer recalled the time when they won their first Big 12 match in the 2008-2009 season. Kara Hickey, who was a senior at the time won a close three set match to clinch their first conference win since 2002.

“I think that was a turning point of where we all believed that we do belong in this conference and we can pull through and beat these teams.”

Espinosa hopes that his players will be successful now that they are almost through with their four years as students at Iowa State and as ISU tennis players.

“I’m hoping that just like they came here and made a difference, that they can make a difference anywhere they go,” Espinosa said.