TENNIS: Cyclones host Huskers this weekend

Dan Tracy —

Following a tough road trip last weekend, on which Iowa State dropped two close meets by a match apiece to Kansas and Kansas State, the Cyclones will return to Ames for a home match against Nebraska. The Cyclones are undefeated in Ames this season,after defeating conference foes Missouri and Colorado and breezing by non-conference teams Cleveland State and South Dakota.

With only six matches remaining before the Big 12 Tournament, Iowa State (9-8, 2-3 Big 12) is hoping that another Big 12 victory can help improve the Cyclones’ seed for the tournament. A higher seed could help the Cyclones’ chances for a first-ever victory in the Big 12 Tournament.

“The next six matches are still important, but at the same time we need to start looking ahead so when it’s tournament time we can use these six matches to prepare us for that,” said coach Armando Espinosa.

The opponent on tap for the Cyclones this weekend, the No. 42 Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-2, 4-0) are currently in second place in the Big 12.

In Big 12 tennis, each of the 12 teams has a traveling partner it buses with to weekend matches. Last weekend, the Huskers, who are traveling partners with Iowa State, defeated Kansas 7-0 and Kansas State 5-2. Nebraska also has four victories over ranked opponents this season, three more than the Cyclones. Although the Huskers will be favored, Espinosa is hoping a nothing-to-lose attitude might spell an upset in Ames on Friday.

“The nice thing about the remainder of the season is with who we are playing, we’re not expected to win,” Espinosa said. “We really don’t have any pressure on us and I’m excited because we have nothing to lose.”

A key for the Cyclones over their past five matches has been winning two of the three doubles matches, which earns them the doubles point. The Cyclones doubles pairings are led by junior Liza Wischer and senior Alyssa Palen, who are currently at 10-5 on the season.

In singles, returning All-Big 12 performer junior Erin Karonis leads the Cyclones at No. 1 singles at 10-7, followed by sophomore Maria Macedo with a 9-7 record at No. 2 singles and sophomore Marie-Christine Chartier also at 9-7 at No. 5 singles.

“If we take care of our side of the net, then we have a chance,” Espinosa said. “If we can put them under pressure, we will see what they’re made of.”

The Cyclones will begin play Friday against Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. at the South Ames Racquet and Fitness Center.