Cyclones push past emotional senior day


Senior Natalie Phippen played for Iowa State Tennis on April 23. Phippen has been a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and an ISU Scholar-Athlete. She fell 0-6, 0-4 during her match against Katarina Stresnakova of OSU.

Andrew Smith

It was a bittersweet day for the Iowa State tennis seniors Natalie Phippen and Samantha Budai as they took the home court for the last time in their collegiate career. At first there were laughs and smiles soon to be followed by tears and hugs.

“I was excited, I was sad, happy, I was relieved — all the above really,” Phippen said. “You realize the things you’ve done and accomplished and you look back and reflect upon it.”

Iowa State tennis held its senior day on Sunday as the Cyclones fell to No.9 Oklahoma State on their way to their second straight Big 12 regular season crown. 

“It’s been good, it’s been fun for sure a process and a journey. Im glad its over to be honest, four years is long enough,” Samantha Budai joked.

Even if they played their last game on Iowa State’s courts, there’s still one more test that is in the form of the Big 12 Championships. In order to compete the Cyclones will need to be as focused as they ever have even after an emotional day. 

Armando Espinosa was encouraged by what his team has shown him in the last two games.

“We’ve been playing pretty well, there have been a lot of good efforts out there,” Espinosa said. “At the end of the day we have to get the momentum from the doubles into the singles court, but Im pretty happy with the kids.”

The road to the championships hasn’t been easy for the Cyclones who just recently had two of the lineup regulars go down with injuries.

Budai has been battling an illness and Margarita Timakova has tweaked her ankle and has been out for the last two matches.

“I think we are just struggling throughout our lineup, we have people sick, we have people injured,” Budai said. “It’s hard for the girls to step up to the spot especially this deep in the season.”

The Cyclones may of struggled but the positive attidute they have preached all season took effect even with a batterd and bruised lineup.

“I think everyone did really well this weekend given the circumstances,” Phippen said. “I think were all a little bit tired and need a day off but coming into the Big 12s we’ll be rested and ready.”

Iowa State will face Kansas State the very team that ended their unbeaten streak in the first round of the tournament. This time the Cyclones are likly to have a heealty squad and well rested too.

“We’ve taken a big step back in terms of practices,” Espinosa said, “We’re gonna give the kids the day off because I feel that our bodies are pretty beat up.”

The players will refuse to let the extra time off the throw them from their normal match preparation though.

“We treat it like another dual match because we’re only playing one team its nice because we have seen the team before.” Budai said. “It’s more mental preparation than the technical stuff, its fixing our games and understanding what went wrong in the conference match.”

The Cyclones will enjoy some time off but cant let the emotional last few day stop them from getting back on the saddle for one last ride even if it is a little overwhelming.

“It’s a long time when you think about it,” Budai said. “But, it goes by quick, Im ready to be done but I’m sure that’ll change.”