TENNIS: Team contends with elite

Junior Erin Karonis practices at the Forker Tennis Courts on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo: Manfred Brugger/Iowa State Daily

Manfred Brugger

Junior Erin Karonis practices at the Forker Tennis Courts on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo: Manfred Brugger/Iowa State Daily

Dan Tracy

On March 24, 2002, the ISU tennis team was ranked as the No. 68 team in the country. It has been more than seven years since the tennis team was ranked as one of the top 100 teams in the nation.

The Cyclones, under second-year coach Armando Espinosa, want to get back in the national spotlight. The team caught a glimpse of that spotlight with a trip to the Western Michigan University Super Challenge this past weekend where the Cyclones got a taste of what it takes to be amongst the NCAA’s elite women’s tennis teams.

Squaring off against a number of nationally ranked teams, including Notre Dame, Illinois, Indiana and DePaul, the team went 13–13 in singles play and 7–5 in doubles play in the tournament.

“I was very pleased we could hang with them, we played well and not once did we get blown out of the water,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa saw an aggressive style of play from the teams at WMU that challenged Iowa State in the short court and made the Cyclones “play better defense than they had before.”

“They came out and hit right at us,” Espinosa said. “It’s what those teams do.”

It was a tough weekend for the Cyclones’ returning All-Big 12 conference player, junior Erin Karonis. Karonis lost her first two singles matches in tiebreaking sets and then fell to DePaul’s Gia McKnight 7–6, 7–6.

“Erin was right there,” Espinosa said. “She was three points away from being undefeated on the weekend.”

However, Karonis turned things around in doubles play with two victories alongside her new partner, freshman Jenna Langhorst. Espinosa was pleased with all four doubles teams that played this weekend.

“The doubles teams are meshing together, especially Erin and Jenna even after never playing together,” Espinosa said. “[In dual matches] we only play three [doubles teams], but I have no problem putting any three of our four out there.”

Highlighting the Cyclones weekend individually was freshman Jasmine Lee, who went an undefeated 3–0 in singles play and teamed up with sophomore Marie-Christine Chartier to go 2–1 in doubles play. On the season, Lee is 8–3 in singles play and 6–3 in doubles.

“She has played like a seasoned player and that’s great to see, especially from a freshman,” Espinosa said.

It will be another two months until the ISU tennis team takes to the courts again as they will head to Rochester, Minn., to take on the University of Minnesota on Jan. 17 in their first non-conference dual match of the 2009–’10 season. The Cyclones finish the fall season with a 62–43 record in singles matches and a 23–17 record in doubles.