TENNIS: Cyclones split in Iowa City

Dan Tracy

Iowa State made the two-hour trip east down I-80 this weekend to Iowa City for a pair of matches with winning programs in Marquette (7–3) and the rival Hawkeyes of Iowa (3–1).

The Golden Eagles and Cyclones squared off with Marquette on Friday and took the early lead with two victories in doubles, winning the doubles point. The previously undefeated pair of senior Alyssa Palen and junior Liza Wischer lost its first doubles match of the season 8–4 to Marquette’s sophomores Paola Calderon and Olga Fischer. No. 1 doubles pair junior Erin Karonis and freshman Jenna Langhorst lost 8–4 to Christina Ruiz and Rachael Hush. The ISU sophomore pair of Maria Macedo and Tessa Lang won the Cyclones lone doubles match with an 8–6 victory over Maggie Wilson and Gillian Hush.

Down 1–0 as they headed into singles, Karonis dropped her No. 1 singles match 6–4, 6–1 to Calderon, putting the Cyclones down 2–0. However, Iowa State won its next three singles matches with victories from Macedo, Lang and junior Marie-Christine Chartier.

With a 3–2 lead, the Cyclones needed either Langhorst or Wischer to win their singles matches and Langhorst, who leads the Cyclones with six singles victories, came through and won first set in a tiebreaker and then finishing off Rachael Hush 7–6 (7–3), 6–3 to earn the 4–3 victory for the Cyclones.

“We came out in doubles and even though we lost the doubles point it was a hard fought match that came down to the wire,” coach Armando Espinosa said.

Hoping to clinch the annual Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk series with a victory, the Cyclones traveled back to Iowa City on Sunday for a matchup with the 4–1 Hawkeyes. Iowa defeated Marquette 6–1 Friday.

With victories over Big 12 opponents Kansas and Kansas State, the Hawkeyes made it 3–0 against the Big 12 with a 7–0 sweep of the Cyclones. The loss marked the second sweep suffered by the Cyclones this season as they dropped to 5–3 on the season. Despite the defeat, Espinosa believes his team fought hard, especially Langhorst, who forced a third set in her 6–4, 4–6, 6–3 No. 4 singles loss to Iowa’s junior Jessica Young.

“I don’t think the 7–0 score really depicted what happened,” Espinosa said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t help the Cy-Hawk series but I was pleased with how we competed.”

Espinosa sees his team moving in the right direction as it gears up for the Big 12 season that begins in only 11 days. Five of the six singles players and all three of the doubles pairings that played this weekend are currently at or above a .500 winning percentage this season.

“We are kind of where we want to be but we still haven’t peaked,” Espinosa said.

Having faced only one ranked opponent all season in No. 69 Minnesota, whom they lost to 4–3, the Cyclones will travel to Norfolk and Richmond, Va., this weekend to take on two of the toughest teams on the East Coast — No. 68 Old Dominion (8–4) and No. 29 VCU (7–2). The matches out east will be the final tune-up before the Big 12 season opener on March 6 when the Cyclones travel to Waco, Texas to face Big 12 juggernaut, No. 5 Baylor.

“It sets up the right kind of stretch for the Big 12 because right after [this weekend] we go play Baylor,” Espinosa said. “It will really help us out to see what kind of level we are at.”