ISU top tennis player questionable to play in Big 12s


Iowa State freshman Annabella Bonadonna jumps for the tennis ball at the match against Kansas on April 10. The Cyclones fell 4-2. Bonadonna ranked first nationally in her age group in 2011 and 2013 before attending ISU.

Les Mwirichia

The ISU tennis team will play Kansas State on Thursday in the first round of the Big 12 Championship in Stillwater, Okla., and enter as the No. 8 seed.  

In early April, the Cyclones beat the Wildcats 4-2 as they entered Big 12 play. 

In that April match, the Cyclones began by winning the doubles point, then followed it up with wins at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 spots in singles to earn a win.

Iowa State plans to have the same strategy going into this weekend and will attempt to get another victory in the process.

Another hope for the the Cyclones is to have their top player Samantha Budai in the lineup for Thursday. The junior missed last Sunday’s match against TCU because of a hamstring injury she suffered against Texas Tech two days earlier. 

Budai and doubles partner Liza Buss defeated the 90th-ranked Texas Tech duo of Alex Valenstein and Gabriela Talaba on Friday before having to pull out of her No. 1 singles match in the first set. Budai defeated the Wildcats top player Ana Garcia Navas in straight sets in the previous matchup. 

If Budai isn’t cleared, head coach Armando Espinosa and assistant coach Chris Williams will be forced to change things up for their singles and doubles lineup on Thursday.

“We are not sure whether or not Sami will play on Thursday,” Espinosa said. “It will most likely be a game-day decision.”

If Budai isn’t clear to go on Thursday, the Cyclones will line up like they did last Sunday against TCU. Buss will take Budai’s place at the No. 1 spot, and Alejandra Galvis will take the No. 2 spot. And the No. 6 will be either sophomore Liera Bender or freshman Claudia Toledo.

Bender and Toledo have both appeared once each against Big 12 opponents.

But the Cyclones, who have already exceeded expectation this season, will attempt to be a competitor in this year’s tournament, with or without their No. 1.

Iowa State’s game plan will remain the same as it has been all season: take care of the doubles point and carry the momentum into the singles matches.

If the Cyclones win Thursday, they will play top-seeded Oklahoma State at noon Friday.