TENNIS: Cyclones host Red Raiders in home finale

ISU junior Liza Wischer sends the ball over the net Friday. Iowa State hosts Texas Tech in its home finale. Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Rebekka Brown

ISU junior Liza Wischer sends the ball over the net Friday. Iowa State hosts Texas Tech in its home finale. Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Dan Tracy —

Iowa State is hoping the sky is the limit for their match against Texas Tech on Sunday. Not only will a win help boost their resume for the upcoming Big 12 Tournament, but the Cyclones 9-9 (2-4 Big 12) are hoping that the weather will allow them to see the sky as they plan to host their first outdoor home match of the 2009-’10 season. The team practiced outside on Thursday for only the second time since early October as they prepared to adjust to the outdoor game.

“You have to look at the sky instead of just looking at the roof so the depth perception is a little bit different, but the tennis doesn’t change,” head coach Armando Espinosa said. “The court is the same length and the net is about the same height so if we can take care of the things we can take care of I think we’ll be okay.”

On Sunday the Cyclones’ opponent will be Texas Tech 6-9 (1-4). The Red Raiders’ 1-4 record in the Big 12 is due in large part to the four ranked opponents they have faced. After the Cyclones play the Red Raiders on Sunday, Iowa State will play three of those four teams — Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M — along with Oklahoma State to finish out the regular season.

“Texas Tech is a beatable team but they are certainly better conditioned to play outside than we are just because they have played [outside] a little bit longer than we have.” Espinosa said. “They beat Oklahoma State who was ranked, we beat Colorado who was ranked so the possibilities are there.”

Currently at eighth place in the Big 12, Espinosa hopes that a win this weekend could propel the Cyclones to their highest seeding in program history.

“We are looking to get into the tournament a little bit better prepared,” Espinosa said. “If we take the win it’s going to allow us to be a better seed, we just need to take care of our side of the net. That’s going to be the bottom line.”

Espinosa has stressed to his team the importance of winning the doubles point all season and as of late the team has responded. Playing alongside senior Alyssa Palen, junior Liza Wischer has helped the team win five of their last six doubles points. Wischer has also won five of her last six singles matches including the team’s lone singles win against Nebraska last weekend.

“Obviously our matches have been really close so I think everyone feels like they have to do their part and I think the whole team has been doing a really good job of just doing their own thing on the court,” Wischer said.

Playing at the No. 6 singles position, Wischer is usually the last Cyclone on the court as she plays in the final match of the day. Finishing up each match has been an adjustment that Wischer has made and one that has been crucial in some of the closer matches this season.

“At that point I’m able to see how the matches are going and now that I’m used to that pressure it doesn’t really phase me,” Wischer said.

On the contrary, junior Erin Karonis, who leads the Cyclones with 10 singles wins, is finishing up her second season at the No. 1 singles position. Karonis is excited to see how the team finishes up the regular season and where they will be seeded for the Big 12 Tournament at the end of the month.

“It’s so nice knowing that we’re going to go into the Big 12 [tournament] having a decent first round draw,” Karonis said. “This year I feel like we’re going in thinking that we have a good chance against anybody we play.”

If the weather permits, the match will be held outdoors at 9:30 a.m. at the Forker Courts on the Iowa State campus.